In the Hot Tub With My Wife, Waiting for the Vet to Call
BY NOMI STONE
Only after, in the tea-colored garden water, turning amber
and nearly gold from the cedar planks,
once he was safe, did we begin to understand.
Our Honeybear had been in the ICU all night.
We didn’t know if something was wrong inside him:
he’d swallowed five pieces of that neon green chew toy that looked
honestly like a dildo, then puked and lay listlessly,
the brightness in his eyes shuttered. As we waited for the doctor,
R described him as the biggest surprise of her life, called him
our kid— how baffling, how beautiful to be 40 years old and not know
how your heart can become larger. When we heard yes
he would be okay, we climbed naked into the hot tub, descending
into the crisply cold wooded water, and above us the tree
with the crinkly white flowers dropped them and dropped them, while R
put her mouth around my nipples and her fingers inside
me and the day was light, the lightness of a fear releasing,
but it was also heavy: heavy like honey, the way when you are alone, you can go
anywhere you want, just get on a plane, and when you are two, it might not
be so easy, you have to see if the other one can go, or if the other one
wants to, and then it was three of us, my wife and myself and the dog’s
soft self, held together, held to one spot on the earth at a time.
Swimming Past the Scallop Dredgers and Still Wanting a Child
BY NOMI STONE
Loch na-Keal is clear. Cold.
We swim through gold
while dredgers near here
toothe open the sea’s beds
of sediment, nutrient, eggs, the sticky
mucus threads of bivalves,
and phytoplankton whose bright cells
carry carbon, turn it into oxygen.
It sounds, I know, like weighted chains,
dragging up the soft bodies
of the scallops, and with them,
the by-catch, the trembling
excess they won’t even eat or sell.
As children, my sister nursed
baby-dolls, while I read books.
She put them in a circle, clucking
around them, making a small world
she could keep safe. Darling,
what could we make? And what
would we have to take from the earth
radiant with damage, to nourish upon it
another child? The sea is pearled
with plastic, the sky is orange
and somewhere, a man carrying his sister
can no longer carry her. He puts her down
in the shade. And even so, yesterday,
we clocked our cycles, and I dreamt
of a child as freckled as you, a Kent plum,
walking with us by the sea, tracing
each rock-pool’s shape with her thumb.
Yesterday, our beloved Conor
showed me a scallop shell he dove for:
each as heavy as a tea-cup, full
of the water it lives from. As he bears it up
gently, a puff of silt rises in a zigzag. He knows
what he took, and where.
Everything I Don’t Know
BY NOMI STONE
On the moped, we cross the island, pass the ferocious blue sea,
its underneath of urchins and grass. I hold her from behind.
Thoughts of wanting a baby pass through me like a shadow.
Thoughts of or do I not want a baby pass through me like a shadow.
My love and I have many ways we do it: stroking her
til she lands on the cock, and the many-hued world
shoots in me again: Technicolor. Our bodies, every time,
start over: bright, new. Always two. Such quiet after.
The sea is clear, silver pickerel visible through the grass.
Cloudy, then clear, I swim every day. In it like a frog. Come evening,
my niece and I trade stories on the phone. In mine, everything
has agency: ballerina slippers fret; boogers fall out of a nose
and get lost. I make each weirdo
and their thoughts, and she belly laughs, her thoughts
bubbling and wild, then spinning away, already
thinking of something else. Did I want to make
something I can’t control, bending
the way a poem does when suddenly
my own new but not yet known
thought climbs up to pound on the door of my heart?