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Leningrad, 1952

by Jenny Noble Anderson

I imagine Maria howling in the birth house
as her youngest boy spills out.
The nurses racing around the sterile room,
the doctor cutting the cord with a hatchet
for good luck.

I imagine a baby, slick with blood and slime
dangled and slapped until he coughs out
his first cry, wiped down mechanically
like a dish, handed to his mother
as her breathing slows.

I imagine him kicking and stretching,
the nurse saying On ochen silnyi
He is so strong, as his mother smiles weakly,
the memory of two dead babies before him
like paperweights in her chest.

I imagine his bruised body curving
into hers, his small mouth inching
closer to her breast, his racing heartbeat
slowing in the nest of her ribs, instinct
awakening his animal thirst.

My nazovyom evo Vladimir, kak evo otets
We’ll call him Vladimir, like his father

she likely whispers,
i on vsegda budget sil’nym
and he will always be strong.

Jenny Noble Anderson is the author of But Still She Flies: Poems and Paintings which received a 2022 Gold Nautilus Book Award. Other recent pieces were featured in (a) river rising: Anthology of Women’s Voices volumes 1 and 2, a Gathering of Poets 2, the Moss Gossamer Anthology from Happy Tapir Press, and a forthcoming issue of the Eunioa Review. While completing her Bachelor of Arts in English at Hendrix College, Jenny was awarded the Murphy Poetry Prize, but shifted direction to pursue a master’s degree in clinical social work. Now a mother, writer, and sobriety coach, she weaves poetry into her personal life, her volunteer work, and her clients’ treatment plans. She lives in Florida with her husband and son.

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