ISSN 1551-8086
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   poets list
   Francisco Dominguez & Aire Celeste Norell
   Marie Lecrivain & Angel Uriel Perales
   Sheikha A.
   Steve Abee
   L. Ward Abel
   Carl Abt
   Hannah Adcock
   Elizabeth Addis
   Aderemi Adegbite
   Adeolu Emmanuel Adesanya
   Neil Aitken
   M.I Akande
   Shahd Al-Shemmari
   Lynn Albanese
   Scott Alexander
   Gwyndyn Alexander
   Nicole Alexander
   Alaina Renee Alexander
   Inalegwu Omapada Alifa
   Maureen Alsop
   Rafael Alvarado
   Steven Alvarez
   Veronica An
   Zack Anderson
   Kristine Anderson
   G.D. Anderson
   Amy Anderson
   Lori Anderson-Moseman
   Grace Andreacchi
   Renae Andruse
   Arlene Ang
   Roger Angle
   Stephen Anstay
   Azure Antoinette
   Theresa Antonia
   Aurora Antonovic
   Maria A Arana
   Carlye Archibeque
   Joseph Armstead
   Feral Artist
   Baron James Ashanti
   Charlene M. Ashendorf
    Askew
   Gregory Austin
   Shawn Aveningo
   maeghanne ayers
   Goodness Lanre Ayoola
   John-Patrick Ayson
   Jim Babwe
   Sophie Bachard
   Vasile Baghiu
   Bridget Bagne
   song-hue bahk
   Michael Baker
   Prerna Bakshi
   Anna Balint
   David Banuelos
   Jared Barbick
   J. Mae Barizo
   Peter Barlow
   Matthew A. Barraza
   James Barros
   Jeni Bate
   Jonathan Beale
   Richard Beban
   Gary Beck
   Gary Beck
   Lytton Bell
   Hakim Bellamy
   Michele Beller
   Laura Bellotti
   Stefanie Bennett
   Hayley Berariu
   Lawrence Berger
   Kevin Berger
   Mike Berger, Ph.D.
   Tom Berman
   luis cuauhtemoc berriozabal
   Craig Berry
   Nick Bertelson
    Besskepp
   Mary Rose Betten
   Cheryl Beychok
   Gwendolyn Beyer
   François Biajoux
   Jarvis Black
   Heitham Black
   Beau Blue
   Rose Mary Boehm
   Bonnie Bolling
   Julie Bolt
   Lek Borja
   Cristogianni Borsella
   Gerald Bosacker
   Amanda Boschetto
   Wendy Bourke
   Jack G. Bowman
   Jennifer Bradpiece
   Bob Bradshaw
   Marcielle Brandler
   Peter Branson
   Sumiko Braun
   Adam Bresson
   Quiana Briggs
   Jack Bristow
   paulo brito
   Alan Britt
   Michelle Brodeur
   Lynne Bronstein
   Charles Brooks
   Adam Levon Brown
   Leah Brown
   Deborah Edler Brown
   Jason Sanford Brown
   zoey brown
   Bob Browning
   Sir Mark Bruback
   MC Bruce
   Jeffrey Bryant
   Kate Buckley
   Robin M. Buehler
   Ron Burch
   Graham Burchell
   Maria Rose Burgio
   Betsy Burke
   Matt Burns
   Richard Burrill
   Tony Bush
   Zachary C. Bush
   Elissa Calvin
   Joseph Camhi
   Dana Campbell
   Don Kingfisher Campbell
   Velene Campbell
   Don Kingfisher Campbell
   Neil Campbell
   Luis Campos
   Janine Canan
   Lyn Cannaday
   Pasquale Capacosa
   Joey Capone
   Hélène Cardona
   Britton Laine Carducci
   D.J. Carlile
   Julia Carlson
   Alicia Carpenter
   Jonathan Carr
   Patricia Carragon
   Oscar Carrasco
   Jared Carter
   Michael Aaron Casares
   John Casey
   Lisa Castro
   Rachael Kelechi Caulker
   Nika Cavat
   Michael Caylo-Baradi
   Steve Ceniceros
   Michael Ceraolo
    Cerise
   Robert Cesaretti
   Cheryl Chambers
   Lita-Luise Chappell
   Shibani Chattopadhyay
   Lisa Cheby
   Beth Cheng
   Ralph-Michael Chiaia
   Juhi Chowdhury
   David Christensen
   Phil Clark
   Terry Clark
   Darice Clark
   Terry Clark
   Charles Claymore
   Jeanette Clough
   Kim Cochran
   Ed Coet
   Tobi Cogswell
   Megan Coker
   Bruce Colbert
   Merrill Cole
   Karen E. Cole
   Christopher Coleman
   Larry Colker
   Beverly M. Collins
   David Concepcion
   Christiane Conésa-Bostock
   Brendan Connell
   Alice Constantine
   Jack Cooper
   Flavia Cosma
   Rachel Coventry
   R. Paul Craig
   David Cravens
   William Crawford
   Natalie Crick
   Rosemarie Crisafi
   Carla Criscuolo
   Chris Crittenden
   Benjamin Crowley
   Susan Culver
   Joe Cyr
   Jim D Babwe
   Morgaine d'Abney
   Karen Corcoran Dabkowski
   Daniel Daian
    Dalton
   Catherine Daly
   Iris Dan
   Marie Lecrivain & Daniel Gallik
   Dan Danila
   Michelle Daugherty
   Piper Davenport
   Kathrine David
   Gareth Davies
   Holly Day
   Frank De Canio
   Gregory De Feo
   Steve De France
   J. de Salvo
   J de Salvo
   kumari de Silva
   Pijush Kanti Deb
   Shalla DeGuzman
   JD DeHart
   Diane Dehler
   Aurelius Demarco
   Darren C Demaree
   Gloria Derge
   Chris Derrico
   Lea Deschenes
   Maurice Devitt
   Theo Diamantis
   Mike Dias
   Martin Dickinson
   Edward J DiMaio
   Mark Dixon
   Peggy Dobreer
   Rosemarie Dombrowski
   Francisco J. Dominguez
   Linsly Donnelly
   Lisa Helene Donovan
   Kevin Doran
   Marvin Louis Dorsey
   John Dorsey
   Marvin Dorsey
   Laura A. Lionello & Douglas Richardson
   Doug Draime
   Donelle Dreese
   Dale Duke
   Jawanza Dumisani
   Henri Dumolet
   Max Dunbar
   Robin Wyatt Dunn
   t. joseph dunn
   Tyler Dupuis
    Durenda
   Walter Durk
   Douglas Dvorkin
   Ron Dvorkin
   Amitabh Vikram Dwivedi
   Alfie Ebojo aka alfie numeric
   Elisabeth Adwin Edwards
   Sabrina Edwards
   Patricia J. Edwards
   Miguel Eichelberger
   John Elison
   Julian Ellis
   Neil Ellman
   K. Eltinaé
   R.M. Engelhardt
   Margarita Engle
   Jon Epstein
   Sufi Erter
   Eli Eshaghian
   Michael Estabrook
   Alexis Rhone Fancher
   Richard Fein
   John Feins
   Emily Fernandez
   Melissa Fischer
   W.S. Fisher
   Jamie Asae FitzGerald
   Amelia Fleetwood
   Jake Fleshner
   John Jay Flicker
   David Flynn
   Arthur Charles Ford
   Liz Fortini
   Sesshu Foster
   Heather Fowler
   Clint Frakes
   Sarah Francois
   Amélie Frank
   Alex M. Frankel
   Allie Frazier
   E.L. Freifeld
   M. Frias Frias-May
   Suzanne Frost
   Delia J. Fry
   Elliott Gabay
   Steven Gabriel
   Timothy Gager
   Daniel Gallik
   J Gamble
   Ishmael Garay
   Jerry Garcia
   Daniel Garcia-Black
   Gabriella Garofalo
   Vince Garofalo
   Yvonne Garrett
   Nelson Gary
   Donna Gebron
   Ulrike Gerbig
   Janice Gero
   Ursula T. Gibson
   Rebecca Gimblett
   Tony Gloeggler
   Steve Goldman
   Vesna Goldsworthy
   Melanie Gonzalez
   Jeffrey Graessley
   Allison Grayhurst
   Jeff Green
   Timothy Green
   Jeanie Greensfelder
   Rhoda Greenstone
   Amos Greig
   John Greiner
   John Grey
   Summer Griffiths
   Danielle Grilli
   Brian Grillo
   John Grochalski
   Wendy Grosskopf
   Andrew Grossman
   Ro Gunetilleke
   Kenneth Gurney
   John R. Guthrie
   Debashish Haar
   Erik Haber
   Hedy Habra
   Tresha Faye Haefner
   Matthias Hagedorn
   James Hall
   Tom Hamilton
   David Harrington
   William Harris
   Matt Harris
   Dawnell Harrison
   J. Alana Hauenschild
   Kari J. Hayes
   KJ Hays
   Ann L. Healey
   Eloise Klein Healy
   Jessica Healy
   Jim Heavily
   Dan Hedges
   Paul Hellweg
   Samantha Henderson
   Jack Henry
   David Herrle
   JD Heskin
   Kenneth Hickey
   Jerry Hicks
   Marvin R Hiemstra
   Ed Higgins
   Carlos Hiraldo
   Sherri Hoffman
   Guy Hogan
   Ali Hosseiny
   Dave Houston
   David Howard
   Eric Howard
   Nate Howard
   Bryon D. Howell
   A J Huffman
   Hunter Lee Hughes
   Roger Humes
   Trista Hurley-Waxali
   Elizabeth Iannaci
   Thea Iberall
   Armine Iknadossian
   Gedda Ilves
   Alegria Imperial
   Victor Infante
   Victor D. Infante
   Augustus Invictus
   Susan Irvine
   Alexandra Isacson
   Natalie Itzhaki
   Amber Jacob
   Scott Jacobson
   Larry Jaffe
   Sonika Jaggi
   Emmanuel Jakpa
   Matthew James
   Andrea Janov
   T.A. Jennings
   Ivan Jenson
   Dani Jimenez
   Alex Johnson
   Michael Lee Johnson
   Lois P. Jones
   Strider Marcus Jones
   Tao Jones
   Georgia Jones-Davis
   Jasmin Jordan
   Quentin Josephy
   Liu Jue
   Ruth Juris
   Gene Justice
   Gary Justice
   Pete Justus
   Mikel K
   Scott C. Kaestner
   Sheema Kalbasi
   Peycho Kanev
   Rachel Kann
   Jay Kantor
   Paula Sfier Kattan
   Russ Kazmierczak
   James Keane
   Gretchen Keer
   Aaron Keller
   Collin Kelley
   Kamuran Kelly
   Raud Kennedy
   Bernard Kennedy
   Kathleen Kenny
   Stephen Kerr
   Hari Bhajan Khalsa
   Just Kibbe
   Jerome Kiel
   lalo kikiriki
   Ashley King
   Robert S King
   Franklin Lafayette King
   Sofia Kioroglou
   Rusty Kjarvik
   Kenny Klein
   LeAnne Kline
   Deborah P Kolodji
   Tracy Koretsky
   Edith Kornfeld
   George Korolog
   Dimitris P. Kraniotis
   Mark Krewatch
   Chris Krueger
   Amanda Krut
   Thomas Krämer
   Gerard Kuc
   Christopher Kuhn
   Donna Kuhn
   Len Kuntz
   Craig Kurtz
   Tammy Ho Lai-Ming
   Daniel Lambert
   Anthony Langford
   Donald Langosy
   Ray Lanthier
   Phillip Larrea
   Phillip Larrea
   Kasandra Larsen
   Wolf Larsen
   Ethan Latham
   Lisa LaTourette
   Marie Lecrivain & Laura A. Lionello
   Marianne LaValle-Vincent
   Kevin Lavey
   Judith A. Lawrence
   Eric Lawson
   Richard Leach
   Marie Lecrivain
   Anne Lecrivain
   Noah Lederman
   Pete Lee
   Emma Lee
   Kevin Patrick Lee
   N.M. Leepsa
   Alexandra Leggat
   Laura LeHew
   Gary Lehmann
   Sharmagne Leland-St. John
   Kevin LeMaster
   Michal Lemberger
   Kim Leng
   Roland Lesterin
   Tiffany Lettieri
   P.A. Levy
   Martin Lewis
   Cheyenne Lewis
   Anthony Liccione
   Cynthia Linville
   Laura Lionello
   Zachary Locklin
   Jessica Lopez
   Harold Lorin
   Tess. Lotta
   B.D. Love
   Adam Lowis
   Ron Lucas
   Andrew Lundwall
   Rick Lupert
   Suzan Lustig
   Radomir Luza
   Stosh Machek
   John MacKenna
   Sarah Maclay
   Stefanie Maclin
    Magdalena
   Gary Maggio
   Holly Magill
   Anthony Magistrale
   Marieta Maglas
   Suvi Mahonen
   Donal Mahoney
   Robert Maiolo
   Kelly Ann Malone
   Michael Malota
   Shahé Mankerian
   Angela Consolo Mankiewicz
   Chris Mansell
   H.E. Mantel
   April-May March
   Rick Marlatt
   John Marshall
   Agnes Marton
   Francis Masat
   Lee Mason
   Hyatt Mason
   Anthony Mason
   Johnny Masuda
   Mira N. Mataric
   Ellyn Maybe
   Michelle Mazzetti
   Mary L. Mazzocco
   Ted Mc Carthy
   Austin McCarron
   Terry McCarty
   Paul McConnell
   Brendan McCormack
   Deborah McCreath-Akbar
   Catfish McDaris
   Bray McDonald
   Karen J McDonnell
   Matt McGee
   Allen McGill
   Afric McGlinchey
   Terance James McGunigle
   Cat Angelique McIntire
   David McIntire
   david mclean
   Isobel McQueen
   Fernando Meisenhaulter
    Mephistopheles
   Corey Mesler
   Melissa Michaels
    Mike the Poet
   Scott Miller
   Richard Lee Miller
   Robert John Miller
   Hany Haggag Abdl Mobdy
   Richard Modiano
   William Mohr
   Sonnet Mondal
   Jason Monios
   Leslie Monsour
   Amanda Montei
   Patrick Mooney
   Carl Moore
   Greggory Moore
    Albert Lee Moran
   A.J. Morelli
   Christopher Mulrooney
   Frank Mundo
   Barbara-Marie Mundt
   Augusto Munoz
   Mark Murphy
   Craig Murray
   Kristine Ong Muslim
   JL Nathan
   Nimah Nawwab
   Leslie Maryann Neal
   Jason Neese
   Raghab Nepal
   Robbi Nester
   Mindy Nettifee
   Martina Reisz Newberry
   Beth Escott Newcomer
   Peter Nezafati
   Scott Nichols
   keith niles
   Dave Nordling
   Aire Celeste Norell
   Steve Norwood
   Laura Nye
   Toti O'Brien
   Charlotte O'Brien
   Suzanne O'Connell
   Katie O'Loughlin
   Peter O'Niell
   Tom O'Reilly
   Akor Emmanuel Oche
   A.J. Odasso
   Rita Odeh
   Kirsten Ogden
   Daniel Olivas
   Maurice Oliver
   Marc Olmstead
   Philip ONeil
   Nzingah Oniwosan
   Chika Onyenezi
   Nina Orlovskaya
   Sergio Ortiz
   David Ishaya Osu
   Scott Thomas Outlar
   Holly Painter
   Lizbeth Palma
   Heather Palmer
   Greg Patrick
   Miss Natalie Patterson
   David E. Patton
   Tim Peeler
   Steve Pelcman
   Angel Perales
   Alice Pero
   Angela J. Perry
   Helen Peterson
   Brenda Petrakos
   Adam Phillips
   James G Piatt
   Rebecca Pierce
   Gareth Pike
   James Pinkerton
   Rob Plath
   Kushal Poddar
   Contributors to poeticdiversity
   Meg Pokrass
   Traian Pop Traian
   Bethany W Pope
   Wayne E. Popelka
   Elisha Porot
   Adrian Potter
   Ren Powell
   Frank Praeger
   Luke Prater
   Kristena Prater
   Shannon Prince
   Stephany Prodromides
   Hattie Quinn
   Octavio Quintanilla
   Beverly J. Raffaele
    Raindog
   Catherine Rajca
   Steve Ramirez
   Mauricio Alejandro Ramos
   Vishnu Rao
   Ingrid Rattay
   James Rauff
   Kasey Ray
   Bili Redd
   Brian Redfern
   Marie Rennard
   Luivette Resto
   E.W. Richardson
   John Richmond
   Francisca Ricinski-Marienfeld
   Kevin Ridgeway
   Lillian Ridgeway
   Dee Rimbaud
   Elijiah Rios
   Cat Risinger
   Ariel Robello
   Ebi Robert
   John D Robinson
   Paula Rodriguez
   Nydia Rojas
   Daniel Romo
   Rina Rose
   Emily Rose
   Diana Rosen
   Poet-broker Rosenthal
   Alison Ross
   James Robert Rudolph
   Walter Ruhlmann
   Gina MarySol Ruiz
   Cody Rukasin
   Cody Rukasin
   Ashley Rumery
   David W. Rushing
   Maryann Russo
   Sonya Sabanac
   Howard Sage
   Russell Salamon
   April Salzano
   Bryan Sanders
   Lisa Marie Sandoval
   Cecile Sarruf
    Sasparella
   Ethan Sassouni
   John Saunders
   Lorraine Sautner
   Rati Saxena
   Iftekhar Sayeed
   Frances Schiavina
   Kim Schroeder
   Carol Schwalberg
   Peter Schwartz
   Ken Scott
   Sondra L. Scott
   David Scriven
   Justin Scupine
   LB Sedlacek
   Lisa Segal
   Anthony Seidman
   Anthony Seidman
   Oleg Semonov
   John W Sexton
   Jack Allen Shafer
   Dahn Shaulis
   Tom Sheehan
   Jake Sheff
   Steve Shickman
   Nancy Shiffrin
   June Shiitake
   Ferrari Silverpowder
   Rishan Singh
   Durlabh Singh
   Kalpna Singh-Chitnis
   Apryl Skies
   Knute Skinner
   Sam Skow
   Ratpack Slim
   Lee Sloca
   Carol Smallwood
   Clinton Smith
   Danielle Smith
    smzang
   Kate Soto
   Ghetto Speare
   Jeanne Marie Spicuzza
   Richard Spuler
   Matina Stamatakis
   Jan Steckel
   Julia Stein
   Eric Steineger
   Carl Stillwell
   Bruce Stirling
   Alex Stolis
   Karr Stratynberg
   Kevin Stricke-9
   Keith Stump
   Daniel Suffian
   Annette Sugden
   J. C. Sullivan
   Dee Sunshine
   Mani Suri
   John Duncan Talbird
   Sister Taxi Hopscotch
   Barbara A. Taylor
   Jonathan Taylor
   Allen Taylor
   Mark Taylor
   Paul Kareem Tayyar
   Alene Terzian
    The Unarmed Man
   A. Thiagarajan
   G. Murray Thomas
   Lynne Thompson
   David Thornbrugh
   Kari Thune
   Sarah Thursday
   Ilona Timoszuk
   Tim Tipton
    TJungle
   Chrys Tobey
    tolbert
   Imani Tolliver
   A. TOMIC
   Anthony Torchia
   Mary Torregrossa
   Evan Traiger
   Davide Trame
   Tri Tran
   Ryan Tranquilla
   Alain Marcel Treadaway
   Pedro Trevino-Ramirez
   Ben Trigg
   Paul Tristram
   Maja Trochimczyk
    Troy
   The TruthHearse
   Tatiana Tulskaya
   Yelena and Roman Tunkel
   John Turi
   Danny Uebbing
   Amy Upham
   Amy Uyematsu
   Philomena van Rijswijk
   Gene van Troyer
   Wanda Vanhoy Smith
   Brenda Varda
   Luis Rubio Vargas
   Carmen Vega
   Ms. Veronica
   Papa Vic
   Clee Villasor
   Ajise Vincent
   Curran D. Vinson
   Jason Visconti
   Anca Vlasopolos
   Daniela Voicu
   Claire Walker
   toren wallace
   r.k. wallace
   Evan Walsh
   Sharieff Walters
   John Wariner
   Deborah L Warner
   Christopher Watkins
   Brian Watson
   Lafayette Wattles
   Charlie Weber
   Ellen Webre
   Justin Weiler
   Viola Weinberg
   Florence Weinberger
   Desmond Weindorf
   Cindy Weinstein
   Denise R. Weuve
   Rev. Dave Wheeler
   Leigh White
   Megwynn White
   Kelley White
   J.T. Whitehead
   Claire Williams
   John Sibley Williams
   Patrick Williamson
   Martin Willitts, Jr
   Jessica Wilson
   Amye Wilson
   Robert D. Wilson
   Alicia Winski
   Tyler Joseph Wiseman
   Joseph Wistren
   Wayne Wolfson
   Terry Wolverton
   Nina Womack
   Seth Woolf
   Kirby Wright
   Gianna Wurzl
   Abigail Wyatt
   John Yamrus
   Müesser Yeniay
   Julie Yi
   Gregory T. Young
   Britney Young
   Omar ZahZah
   Mariano Zaro
   Michael Zeltser
    
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Nika Cavat
November 2004
   

 

Pregnant With Possibility

    It happened standing over the kitchen sink, rinsing onion residue from her hands – hands beginning to knot and shine from encroaching arthritis, a spray of pea-sized brown spots scattered over the tops. Minerva felt woozy as she reached for the countertop and eased herself into a chair. Her belly hurt something awful. A tugging sensation propelled her to the bathroom where she sat on the toilet. God help me, where is the phone. She banged on the walls, hoping her young neighbor would hear her. Janet was a graduate film student who had once before helped Minerva up after she took a tumble in the hallway of their building. She banged until she exhausted herself. The bathroom window was shut tight. An old woman living alone had to live like she could be assaulted at any moment. She had had 72 years of defensive living under her belt. A Goodyear Blimp bumble by like a gigantic honey bee. Minerva doubled over as the pain in her stomach intensified. It felt strangely like when she gave birth to her son, whose head circumference and body weight made hospital history then, forty-five years earlier.

    When she awakened, Minerva was supine in bed, a cool cloth draped across her forehead, and Janet’s comforting hand smoothing her short-cropped hair.

    “Minny, are you okay?”

    “Well, I just don’t know what happened.”

    “I found you on your bathroom floor—there was a lot of blood. I cleaned you up and walked you into bed.”

    Janet lifted the cloth and peeked underneath. Minerva blinked as the morning sun emptied into her little bedroom. Her lace curtains flickered in a gentle breeze. Janet’s face looked stricken as she strained for control.

    “Blood? Why—“ Minerva’s hand felt below the covers. “Oh—“

    “And Minny," Janet took the cloth off completely, placed it on the floor and gingerly lifted something wrapped in a bloodied sheet to the bedside. “I found this in the bathroom doorway.”

    She unfolded the sheet to reveal what looked like some kind of armored sea creature. It had two horseshoe shapes attached by a middle portion, and around the edges were tentacles that twitched spasmodically. Minerva was more curious than horrified. She poked out a finger and touched the surface. It was like car vinyl. The tentacles waved towards then away from her.

    “Oh—“. Minerva’s eyes closed.



                * * *

    “It’s a Condylopyge, mid-Cambrian period, about 540 million years ago.”

    Janet’s high school biology teacher, Mr. Baele, pushed his glasses up higher on the bridge of his nose and gave a satisfied sniff. Whatever it was had stopped moving a half hour after Minerva fainted back to sleep, and Janet, too frightened to go anywhere else, remembered this shape from Mr. Beale’s class ten years before. If anyone could identify ancient life forms, it would be him.

    “Excellent replica. Where did you say you got this?” he asked.

    “Movie.”

    “Oh, which one? Anyone famous?”

    “No, I mean, yeah. Jeff Goldblum. Sci fi, murder mystery, kind of funny.”

    She wrapped the creature in a towel and eased it into a duffel bag.

    “One of those hybrid genre flicks, eh? Well, whoever is doing their special effects sure knows his stuff.”

    “It’s a ‘she’, actually. And yes, she’s good, really good. Thanks, Mr. Baele.”

                * * *

    A strong cup of English Breakfast tea and Minerva felt better already. Outside, the lawn sprinklers arched high into the heavens, sending down a rainbow of glistening water drops. For the most part, Minerva kept to herself.

    The congested freeways scared her. Too many possibilities of getting lost in strange neighborhoods where no one spoke English. The streets were a series of dead-ends where few children played and teenaged boys sat on car hoods scoping out each passing vehicle with narrowed eyes. Hers was a quiet world. Just the wooden clock she’d gotten upon retirement with its comforting tick-tock on the piano, the doves, the music she listened to on the radio.

    Her experience in the bathroom was fast fading from memory. Some silly thing, that. Janet must have been playing a joke on her. A –what did she call it – Condylop, something or other. Some prehistoric creature replica she probably swiped from the shelves of one of the film studios, most likely. Minerva had to be more careful now, just in case she had those unsettling stomach cramps again. She’d go to her doctor soon enough. In the meantime, she kept a mobile phone in each room, and a boat siren Janet insisted on her wearing around her neck if she ever fell again. Goodness, that siren was loud enough to rupture an eardrum! She’d made herself a plate of pasta, a rare treat given that her appetite had diminished over the past few years, just as her figure had. As Betty Davis said, old age ain’t for sissies.

    Janet dropped in, her dog, Hitchcock, with dripping tongue standing behind her. In one hand, she held a bag of pastries.

    “What do I smell?” Minerva eyed the bag hungrily.

    “Almond bear claws. Would you like one? But you don’t eat sugary things, do you?” She extracted the pastry. Minerva snatched it from her with lightning speed, biting into it lustily. “Well, I guess I’m wrong!”
She glanced about the kitchen. Every surface was covered with pots, plates, open jars of olives, pasta sauce, jam. Minerva followed her gaze and blushed guiltily.

    “I’ve been famished lately.”

    “You gone to see your doctor, as I told you to do?” Janet asked.

    “No, well, I have an appointment for Thursday. I’m sure there’s no reason to fuss.”

    Minerva reached into her dress pocket and fed Hitchcock a Snausage dog treat. “One for you”, she smiled as he gulped it down, “and one for me!” and she popped a dog treat into her mouth. Janet made a face. “They’re more than tolerable. And surprisingly good for you.”

    Minerva’s stomach tightened a moment. That feeling again. There was a strange fluttering in her belly. Butterflies and moths’ wings.

    “Janet dear, will you excuse me?”

    Janet asked if she could be of help, but the old woman waved her away with reassurances it was just indigestion. Eating so much so quickly perhaps wasn’t such a good idea.

    What her kindly neighbor didn’t see was the table overturned against the back door, the grapes she’d hung from the bedside lamp, the over-ripe bananas she placed along the lip of the bathtub. Minerva did these things as though driven by some inner motor. No need for alarm. Such preparations were as instinctual as it would be for any whelping mammal.

    This time, she remained conscious and relatively clear-headed. She spread extra sheets on the bed, put on the overhead fan, and waited. The fan’s whoosh-whoosh put her into a trance. Deep in her insides, forces gathered. Blood rushing to various parts of her body, the great and small tributaries, the streams, the pooling ponds, swirling, swirling, swirling. Somewhere in the distance she heard a helicopter’s steady drone. A police loud speaker. Drop your weapons and come out of the car with—over and over again. She could sing it like a lullaby. Whoosh-whoosh. Then the clenching started.

    Minerva knew this time it would be no hard-shelled 540 million year old sea animal. When it emerged, she bent down and lifted it to her withered breast. Homo sapien, quaternary period. 1 million years ago. Its tiny face was all scrunched up, black tufts of hair clung wet to the pink ears, laid flat against its head. It nuzzled at her breast. After the dear one fell asleep, Minerva placed it tenderly on a pillow and rose to shower. When she returned, she found it sitting on the bureau, munching on a banana.

    “Hello, love. Is that good, hum?” Lifting it into her arms, Minerva rocked as it ate and smiled at her. It had a perfect row of white teeth, like tiny seed pearls strung side by side. The bunch of bananas went in one night, the baby grew. Unable to leave it alone (it missed the toilet more than once and took to ripping the tea rose wall paper from the walls), Minerva employed a young Salvadoran boy to buy her groceries. When the baby could stand on its own two furry feet, Minerva opened the window and urged it outside. It was reluctant at first, hovering near her ankles and whining pitifully.

    “Come now, it’s a good thing. The great outdoors. You’ll love it!”

    She placed banana slices along the window sill, then threw some out into the garden. The creature followed the trail, finally leaping out the window with a delighted squeal. Though it was hard to see it go, Minerva felt confident it was the right thing to do. The house was getting crowded, and smelled like a zoo. She then opened all the doors and windows. Big band music filled the kitchen. One of her dear doves fluttered about the bird feeder. It wasn’t as empty as she had imagined it might be after the little creature swung out of the window and into the great unknown. All children must grow and separate from the mother. It is the way of the world.

* * *
    The last time Minerva’s belly yanked at her, she was in the supermarket in the frozen food aisle. It was a scorching July day and the streets wavered in the mid-day heat as though liquid. She stood with the freezer door open, enjoying the cool caresses of air over her bare legs. She shut her eyes as her breath caught.

    “Are you okay?” a teenaged girl touched her arm. She had a homemade tattoo, Manny on one arm, and held a plump baby boy in her other.

    “Yes, dear, thank you for asking, just a bit tired, that’s all.” Minerva smiled weakly at the boy. His eyes were a startling shade of cobalt blue, although his skin was tawny and his hair shone darkly. The old woman’s rounded belly felt suddenly heavier, and she fought the urge to urinate right there in the frozen food aisle. Staggering to her car, she drove herself home, promising silently that she would never drive again. Not in this heat. Not in this traffic. Not in this city. Ever again.

    The birth nearly killed Minerva. She barely had time to pull down the shades and turn the tv volume up so no one could hear her cries. Thankfully, Janet was away working on some kind of political documentary. She’d explained in an excited tone to Minerva the night before that it was to feature an interview with a well-known dictator, Castro perhaps, or perhaps Hussein, and then an interview with either peace-activist and actor Martin Sheen or Rev. Jesse Jackson. It was, Janet expounded, going to be one of the greatest films about good and evil made in the 21st Century.

    “Imagine being in the same room as Castro! We might even have access to the Infamous War Room. And Rev. Jackson, well, I’ve loved him since childhood.”

    And Minerva had nodded supportively. Janet’s enthusiasm and her good will overwhelmed her. Such energy, such positive energy. It’s quite glorious.

    Now Minerva was truly on her own. The sea creature had disappeared like a back alley abortion. Secreted away to God knows where. She didn’t care. And the homo sapien she had released to the big green world with her deepest and most heartfelt blessings. When the child was born, he looked just like her son, blond-haired, with a tiny rose bud mouth and the most perfect fingers and toes. And such skin! Smooth silky satin skin that smelled of mother’s milk and promise. Such great promise. This one she would keep.





copyright 2004 Nika Cavat