Buried Hearts, by Dixie Salazar
Altar with Bruised Ankles, Wrists, and Stretch Marks
Delivery Room, Valley State Prison
for Catherine and Irene
I pushed hard against gravity, life– sucking for and against me, and she pushed back, then crowned despite chains and cops circling this new, cold, unwelcome place. She didn’t cry, at first. Like a river pouring through me, Alyssa Chantell came gushing out of me — huge, sweet lips fixing to taste the world, to suck up what she needed in big, greedy gulps. They tied strips of cloth around my breasts and gave me a shot to stop the milk, but they never took off the shackles. I fought sleep like crazy to hold her as long as I could, to feast on her little milky fingers and toes for one day. Now my breasts hurt like a motherfucker, but I still smell her in my dreams.