They appear through crib-slats:  a chorus
of heads—upturned crocus bulbs, unfurling
leaves of ears, pupils stirring
with the silhouettes of my hands
that descend like awkward birds.  

Their skulls are soft enough
to swell. They clench my hand
to feel how my fingers mean
unvoiced sentences
that stroke their earlobes. 

Dribbling, fattened capsules
of spasms. I watch them start
to pattern their energy
into gestures, to inflict feeling
onto their face and grimace their gums
into a grin. 

They must feel overburdened by the surmounting
clarity of forms:  mom’s head intensifying into a face,
the liquids of her voice growing dense
with intention. 

I wonder if they can feel the waning
familiarity of the womb, as they finger
their bellies for phantomed shreds of silvery
umbilicus. I guide my palm to theirs and press,
wonder if they can feel the world
grow nearer.

Courtney Hitson recently earned her MFA in poetry from Columbia College Chicago. Her poems have appeared in The Broken Plate, Genesis, Laundromat, The Public Haiku, Ball Bearings, Columbia Poetry Review, Arsenic Lobster, and are forthcoming in NAP.

I’ve worked with infants for a few years.  I wanted to write a poem that explored the strange space newborns transgress during their first year of life.   Within this space, they start to perceive moments of beauty, establish connections with the world, and slowly acquire a sort of personhood.  They develop their humanness and it is fascinating and stunning to witness




Copyright 2009