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The Blue Moon Review

The Body Knows
by Stacia M. Fleegal
She could pretend to know about motherhood,

the natural feel of it down to that first fateful meiosis,

her first real second of pregnancy when maybe it would have been

better to stab out that cigarette she was holding

over the toilet where she’d just peed on a stick

that would tell her what she didn’t already know,

what she’d assured herself and her best friend

standing just outside the door could never happen

because she would know if she were pregnant, but she can’t

pretend because she didn’t and doesn’t know.

She smoked that Camel to the butt, extinguished it

in pregnant piss and toilet water, vacated a pregnant room

to be pregnant in another—when had this state become

so permanent? She tried, lying awake nights, to feel something,

some flutter of truth, but the weight of knowing

and not feeling was like a lie over her head—it felt like that,

a tightness when she’d breathe, the cost of knowing

and of smoking cigarettes straight through, fifteen weeks,

though they made her sicker than hell, and a good mother

would never do such a thing unless she knew something others didn’t.

Her body thinned as if it didn’t know to thicken, her face paled

in defiance of a mother’s glow, and pulling on a cigarette pulled

her cheeks taut, kept her from crying, but when the decision was made

there were no cries to ease her heavy breasts—stone, swollen, unable to cry,

the most female parts of her knew nothing of babies,

and she’d had to prod and press first left, then right breast between towels,

some masochistic mammogram she’d had to endure like a labor

so that her body could resume normalcy: a cigarette

that didn’t induce vomiting, and the barren truth.

Stacia M. Fleegal resides in Williamsport, PA. She has work forthcoming in 3rd Muse Poetry Journal and Asphodel, the literary journal of Rowan University.

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