The babysitter’s fast slap, on a German cockroach

Next collection forthcoming

Anna Abraham Gasaway
  • Anna Abraham Gasaway


  • It all depended
  • upon the peach juice
  • trickling down her arm,
  • and icy Kool-Aid drunk
  • from green aluminum Tupperware tumblers,
  • and lily-of-the-valleys,
  • like tiny tea-cups
  • in a fairy kingdom,
  • and picking blackberries
  • in sand buckets,
  • they stained so purple.
  • And the rains, 12 inches deep
  • that doused the anthills,
  • mud squelching between her toes.
  • And the babysitter’s fast slap,
  • on a German cockroach,
  • its antennae still wriggling
  • long after, and the
  • Naugahyde couch,
  • where Cheetos-smelling children
  • made sweaty indentations
  • while watching Dynasty.
  • In that summer of separation,
  • we knew all, but did not speak.

Spoken on the Birth of my Daughter

  • Morning Nurse said, “This never happens to bitches.”
  • OB said, “We can try again in three months.”
  • “David was so looking forward to his princess,”
  • said a friend of my husband’s.
  • “It was nothing you did or didn’t do.
  • You have to believe that. Things happen,”
  • my friend Laura said.
  • “Yell at God! He can take it,
  • and my Jesus,
  • my Savior weeps with you,” said Pastor Tim.
  • Remarkable the way people now felt free to tell me their stories,
  • I feel inducted into their secret society.
  • “My daughter would have been 42. I still mark her birthday.”
  • “James. His heart stopped beating in my arms.”
  • “Connor, from a genetic defect. He never made it out of the hospital.”
  • “Rebecca. Made it all the way to 40 weeks. Cord accident.”
  • So many ways for a baby to die,
  • it’s a wonder that any of us live.
  • What I know to be true:
  • “The fetal surface is cloudy, dusky…”
  • like the waters before God spoke them into life.
  • “Surface vessels are normal,”
  • Doctor could not see, I could not hear.
  • Sylvia Sage Gasaway’s heart stopped beating at 36 weeks.
  • My breast dripped milk for months after

Originally from Gary, Indiana, Anna Abraham Gasaway has resided in San Diego for 12 years. She has been featured in the spoken-word showcase of VAMP/ So Say We All, won awards from Mesa College, and been published in Mesa Visions and CityWorks. She is currently working on a collection of poetry called Silence, Please. She lives with her husband, son, and dog in Linda Vista.

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