Poem of the Week | September 18, 2017

This week, we are pleased to present a new poem by Derek Annis. Annis is a graduate of The MFA at EWU. His work has appeared in The Gettysburg Review, Crab Creek Review, The Meadow, Redactions: Poetry & Poetics, and Heart of the Rat: an Anthology, among others. He lives with his wife and two daughters in Spokane, Washington.

We Prepared Well for Your Arrival

              –A triptych

We spackled, patched, and sanded
all the fist holes
in the drywall, fixed the crack
in the bathroom sink to keep
rusty water from pooling
on the white linoleum.
We even scrubbed
the orange stain out (kid,


              when we beheaded
              all our birds for you,
              the sky turned


and pink). We put all the bottles
in the far corner
of the cupboard.
I cut off my hair
for you (and we sold it


               so I could buy
               a jar
              of stars to light
              the nursery


where you would have slept). But you came
too early. You didn’t stay
to say goodbye. Instead (you dipped


            an egg in red dye
            and left it
            tucked beneath
            the sheets


we embroidered for you), the doctors
went in with rubber gloves
and speculum to do their scraping.
Did you know we ripped out
the soiled, cigarette-specked
carpet for you, replaced it
with a new one, soft
and white? You left stains
all over it when you went (when you went


              we walked
              into the ocean
             alone, open
             arms, open eyes,


open mouths). When you went
there was a change
in the light—the way it bends.
The way it hangs between us,
we can nearly hold it.


Author’s Note:


In 2013, my wife and I were expecting our first baby. On the first day of the second trimester, the pregnancy ended in miscarriage. There were moments when that loss felt tangible, concrete. There were moments when it felt as though I was inhabiting a dream, or a fairytale. Then there were moments when those two seemingly contradictory feelings merged, making a third thing: what seemed to me a perfect experience of grief. “We Prepared Well for Your Arrival” is an attempt at transcribing that experience.

I think of this poem as a triptych. It can be read three ways: everything outside of the parentheses (tangible/concrete), everything inside the parentheses (dream/fairytale), or all together (as it appears on the page). Each way of reading is one “panel” of the triptych.