Sheila Squillante

As If There Were Something Other Than This Weather

As if there were something other than this weather— ice-heavy branches bent beneath a purposeful weight. As if there were something other than fright, this heavy- handed strangeness. The child, who weighs near eighteen pounds today, did not begin this way. No, then, slim   and wispy and slight; unaware of how you spun, split yourself, spiraled into a vision of him, years out, old, older, now but a wisp of skin and hair and nails. Nothing. Nothing.  In the series finale of your favorite cable television drama, a young woman with insistent red hair drives away. Away from her crazy, beloved family and toward a bright, heavy life. Drives a heavy family away. Heaves a family finale. Toward and away from now which feels as much like place as time—your body its milky topography with no map key in the bottom left corner.  The woman, a bright stranger   on the television. The child, a heaving stranger in your arms. For two weeks now:  dull ache, shut drapes, rocking, rocking, rock-hard breasts in a hot shower, hoarse voice in a hot shower, voice singing in a darkened room, voice brightening, awakening, voice pushing you down.  In the series finale, everyone dies   in their own time and you hand your child—whom you do love, but inarticulately yet—to your husband and you weep for five and a half hours. You know you will drown amid these strange, bright fluids. You will all bend beneath this sweet, frightful weight.

Sheila Squillante's poems and essays have appeared in many print and online journals, including Prairie Schooner, Quarterly West, Phoebe, Clackamas Review, Brevity, PANK, TYPO, Glamour magazine and the recent collection, Mama, Ph.D.: Women Write About Motherhood and Academic Life. Her essay, "Cry, Baby", is featured in the current issue of Literary Mama. She is the associate director of the MFA program in creative writing at Penn State.