Saturday Feb 23

Berry-Poetry Jennifer Jackson Berry lives in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania. Recent poems have appeared or are forthcoming in Harpur Palate, Stone Highway Review, 5AM, Main Street Rag, Jet Fuel Review, Amethyst Arsenic, and Mead, among others. She is the author of the chapbooks When I Was a Girl (Sundress Publications, forthcoming in 2013) and Nothing But Candy (Liquid Paper Press, 2003).



Post Miscarriage: Day 55

I can’t go to Sunday dinners anymore:
brother’s two kids are too cute with one learning
the alphabet, the other boasting length & weight
in the 99th percentile. I can’t wear the red
sweater anymore. I’m the only one who still looks
at that picture & remembers I was pregnant

at that party. Actually no one knew I was pregnant
except family & one friend, but anymore
it seems like they forgot. I can’t help but look
for emails from The Bump, but they learned
when a woman cancels the newsletter early, to read
between the lines. She miscarried. Wait

a few months before resuming any contact. Wait
out the two cycles, like I am, before trying to get pregnant.
I do get emails about cord blood & I wonder if it’s redder,
thicker, darker than the mother’s blood, is it more?
I would have had a lot of research & learning
if I had carried to term. I had to look

up so much that one month I knew. We joked it looked
like we were having a baby according to google. I had weight
loss that one month from eating healthy & learning
to control my sugars. Wouldn’t you want when you’re pregnant
sweet, sweet blood? It’s not a surprise anymore
that I will always confuse succor & sucra-. I read

about the dangers of artificial sweeteners then. I read
more into that red sweater picture than I should now. I looked
good at that party. I rarely do anymore.
I didn’t think I had that glow yet, so early in the pregnancy;
I had too much to think about, already too much weight.
I need to start paying attention to the little things again, learning

it’s ok to, for example, go for an eyebrow wax. I need to relearn
it’s ok to focus on myself (& maybe throw away that red
sweater). I don’t want to think about getting pregnant.
No one analyzed what I bled; the paramedic didn’t even look
in the toilet. No one measured the heft, the weight
of what I don’t carry inside me anymore.
I may never know why I lost the pregnancy, but I’ve learned
there are a multitude of possibilities: my weight, uterus not ready…
I close my eyes, close my ears. I can’t look anymore.


That Day

There were monthly roller skating parties
during elementary school at the Valerina rink:
disco lights, the Hokey Pokey, couples
skates, penny candy & orange pop at the snack bar.
Calvin & I started by just skating side-by-side,
but then I said I don't bite & he took my hand.
I didn’t do too bad with my old-fashioned line.
There is a learning curve for flirting.
In 8th grade, Davis Field, Friday night football game,
I walked by Chuck, who was standing on the bottom bleacher.
His Reebok Pump shoes were right there,
so I pumped & said hello. He walked me
to my bus every afternoon for the next month.
The walk was a red carpet, kids hanging
out bus windows, watching.
If someone was watching & saw my head
on my husband’s belly that day,
it might have looked post-coital. I was there so
he didn’t have to watch me cry as we said maybe
this wasn’t going to happen. He knew though;
my tears flirted with his skin. We didn’t like our chances.
It had been a year of trying.

When I was a girl, I thought the most embarrassing thing
was the wipe out fall while Calvin held my hand.
I started the fall & we both skidded
across the dark, polished wood, slowing only
when we hit the hump in the middle of the floor.
Some days the world isn’t simple enough.
Laugh when you fall. Love like
you’re not sure what next month will hold.
was #s 1, 2, 3, 7, 8, 9, and 10 on Calvin’s list
of girls after that 4th grade skate. Amy, Nicole
& Heather B. wormed their way into his middle.
This list from a boy who wrote me: I’m sitting here
thinking of you & Pee Wee Herman.
Some days the world was simple enough.
There were many days I should have taken 70% & smiled.
I wonder, now, if we would have kept trying
after that day had we really known how much
one can love in just a month’s time.