#95 THE TENTH CHILD by Yvette A. Schnoeker-Shorb

Her mother told her
that the birth of the atom bomb
occurred before the daughter was born,
and it happened secretly
when they were tent dwellers
waiting to build a house;
exposed to the black blanket of sky,
they were not used to seeing
                                   daylight at night.
 
After that time, it took ten tries,
miscarriages or stillborns,
to have a baby.  This daughter
was the first one born alive
                                 who stayed alive—
although later siblings suffered
deformities from fallout.
 
Testing now is no longer done
without warning.  It doesn’t take place
only in “uninhabited” areas
of the New Mexico desert
but within the vast space
                                           of her body;
so far, everything is normal,
but sometimes in a dream
                                 her soul explodes.

*Note: First appeared in RiverSedge in Spring 2001

Yvette A. Schnoeker-Shorb’s poetry has appeared in Terrain.org: A Journal of the Built and Natural Environments, Blueline, SpectrumPedestal Magazine, Wilderness House Literary Review, Midwest Quarterly, Jelly Bucket, Red River Review, Puerto del Sol, Concho River Review, and other journals.  She is co-founder of Native West Press—a nonprofit organization.


3 thoughts on “#95 THE TENTH CHILD by Yvette A. Schnoeker-Shorb

  1. “…but within the vast space/ of her body”

    Such a powerful poem. You capture the terror, the heartbreak and the miracle of life–the paradox exploding in all our souls. Thank you.

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