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At Twenty Minutes Past Twelve by a Clock in the Queens Apartment I Commenced to Give a Little Chloroform

—April 1853 casebook entry, Dr. John Snow

Snow, a name like a blizzard in springtime summoned to the Palace

where the baby turns inside the Queen. A magician’s hand

come to release his apothecary jar into the darkened room

like a glass dove. Blessed handkerchief. Blessed sail laid at

your lips. Sweet drip of chloroform. What does a Queen see

in her closing eyes? Strolling the canal the length of the gardens.

Resting the fruit of the mulberry tree, heavy, vaguely womb-shaped,

in her hand. A name like white petals giggling in the whirl of his

swift gait, the glint of his waistcoat buttons all in a row, all things

delightful. Somewhere a curtained bed drifts downriver. Somewhere

a baby is crowning. Come back behind the closed door and lie down.

Come back already from the flank of trees. The bird has retired

to the sleeve. Someone lifts the baby His Royal Highness the Prince

like a balmy fruit plucked from the bed sheets. Has the sweet fire

thawed from your throat? Is that your baby? Did you see how he did it?

from Paper Doll FetusFind it in the library

Copyright © Persea Books 2014
Used with the permission of The Permissions Company, Inc.
on behalf of Persea Books.

Published in Cynthia Marie Hoffman Poems

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