Autumn Sky Poetry . . . Number 16 . . .

3 a.m. Service, New Melleray Monastery

     by Tania Pryputniewicz

Blood berries of our taillights
in the Iowa snow. Orion in the sky.
Brother Felix signs us in. Stale cookies
from the basement jar, a bitter sip
of Orange Pekoe tea. A narrow bed
with tan coverlet. One casement

overlooking the courtyard
and dark of the monks’ wing.
One candle, ladder stranded,
on the stone wall facing us.
Higher yet, an open window,
wide enough for a fistful of snow

or an owl. It’s the time of night
I was born; the brothers file out,
leaving the candle lit. A hot shower later,
it’s naked to sleep, like the Lady
of Guadalupe, skin red as her satin,
the green air above the bed sifting

over my shoulders, sheets poked gold
with stars, prayers, a rind of the moon,
and the up-stretched hands of some androgyne
cherub cupping my feet. It’ll go, slow,
after childbirth, my second, this gripping—
like a child urged against her gut by an adult

to hold a stranger’s rabbit,
white fur thinner than milkweed silk.
That panicked mile of open prairie
in one shock-jerk kick, scratch marks
welling down one’s arm. God’s nothing
like that—is instead the voice that told you

not to hold the rabbit, the heat
in the sea-star nub of one’s nipple
down the newborn’s throat, and the blind,
dead-sure rooting of my son
rolling towards the spot in our bed
I’ve risen from to write this poem.

Recent poetry by Tania Pryputniewicz appeared in The Spoon River Poetry Review, Linebreak, Salome Magazine, and Tiny Lights. A graduate of the Iowa Writers’ Workshop, she is currently poetry editor at The Fertile Source. New work, paired with the photography of Robyn Beattie, is forthcoming in The MOM Egg's spring print edition.

© 2010 Tania Pryputniewicz