Protochild 3 

Beneath a dank tongue of bridge, clicking itself
through the night, we find him,
our son, and everything goes Dick and Jane
til 7ish. He does tricks on the lightning-bright jungle gym,
and we clap ourselves away, like thunder
and stained-burnt lips and hands to a joke about STDs
we’ve never had or seen but heard of
from friends, friends-of-friends, a teary call
in the distance. White dusk of a smile, 

we are counterparts in the dream. The sea
nudges the shale we walk barefoot on. “Slippery”
never quite said but understood
by a slip of my shin. 

As adults, we no longer learn. We know the Grain Belt
left out will freeze and burst
into something magnificent or not.
It is no longer Wisconsin; I was asleep early
to a show that cast itself in frank blues and tones;
you cry while cooking, then stop. 

In your gut, you know the hypotheticals: the red
under nail is not blood but cherry from the market
or stain from the outdoor siding project, coloring
with our boy, or painting with our boy,
intense heat of pressure, parturition, you think,
and only pick at your lip of skin absentmindedly. 

In your gut, the child turns himself like cement
in the hull of a truck. You haven’t vomited in months,
and we don’t do the amniocentesis, and your blood pressure
is the healthiest the nurse has seen in weeks. Our kid,
in your heart of a gut, in the wetted cloth
of humanity, spins himself dizzy and we laugh,
tumbles like damp laundry, and clap—oh, do we clap!—
blip our heartbeats on a radar in a dark room.

Daniel Altenburg received his MFA from the University of Arizona (2011), and is a PhD candidate in creative writing at the University of Louisiana at Lafayette, where he teaches English and works as Co-Editor-in-Chief for Rougarou: A Journal of Arts and Literature. Daniel is interested in space, the familial, their intertwinement, and the vulgarities of colloquial and gendered language. His work has most recently appeared in The Offending AdamDelugeYalobusha Review, and BlazeVox, and can be found at his His book Flight is forthcoming from Spork Press (March 2019).