1133: The Alien by Greg Delanty

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1133: The Alien by Greg Delanty


I’m Major Jackson, and this is The Slowdown.

However tight the team of parents, and family and community beyond that, supporting a child in utero, that baby is carried by one body alone. Their body is not only one of creation, of labor, of internal mystery, but one of a singular emotional gravity.

During the spring months, I think of my mother’s somberness. Typically, around April, each year, she would drive the both of us to Fairmount Park in Philadelphia. She parked the car on the banks of the Schuylkill River. We sat in silence and watched coxswains yell commands at rowers dipping oar blades into water. There was a placid calm to their synchronous power that resulted in a forward glide across the river’s surface. Once I reached to turn the radio dial on. She gently guided my hand back to my lap.

After what felt like hours of staring out at the water, eventually, she cried — gentle tears and low audible sobs. Later, as a teenager, I learned of a pregnancy that never went to term. I was too young before then to understand the depth and source of her grief. After wiping her eyes, she announced that I was her best friend. Then, we drove to Bredenbeck’s Bakery for ice cream, which lifted her spirits.

Those memories returned when, as an expectant father, I sat nearby in the delivery room, staring as my wife pushed and breathed, pushed and breathed, deep in her own rhythmic power, deep in her own waters. At the precipice of new life, the air in the room was electric. I was nervous, yet I marveled at my wife’s strength. Then, my son arrived slick and screaming into the world, freighted with messages from the other side. I took in the whole miracle.

Today’s poem captures that spirit of wonder but also the anxiety at the impending birth of a new child.

The Alien
by Greg Delanty

I’m back again scrutinizing the Milky Way
    of your ultrasound, scanning the dark
        matter, the nothingness, that now the heads say
    is chockablock with quarks and squarks,
gravitons and gravatini, photons and photinos. Our sprout,

who art there inside the spacecraft
    of your Ma, the time capsule of this printout, 
        hurling and whirling towards us, it’s all daft
    on this earth. Our alien who art in the heavens,
our Martian, our little green man, we’re anxious

to make contact, to ask divers questions
    about the heavendom you hail from, to discuss
        the whole shebang of the beginning and end,
    the pre-big bang untime before you forget the why
and lie of thy first place. And, our friend, 

to say Welcome, that we mean no harm, we’d die
    for you even, that we pray you’re not here
        to subdue us, that we’d put away
    our ray guns, missiles, attitude and share
our world with you, little big head, if only you stay.

“The Alien” by Greg Delanty from SELECTED DELANTY © 2017 Greg Delanty. Used by permission of Un-Gyve Press.