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The Stone Baby

In this medical fantasy the body charms
by its own devices, its tissue a myth, a village
and river lore too ancient for X-ray, too

seductive for the stiff calcified, the all-this-time
asymptomatic concretion. This baby is not evil
but stone-honeyed, stone-hooked, a grist and laying creature.

Always the hysteric of stability,
it is the womb that’s a blinking Gorgon eye
which spies and stares the child as she flees,          then

spasm of floor, torso, palms open to bring out
the new thing, throat against the cries

that do not come. Your fatted heels and fists
dig and choke, dig and wallow in muscle.          Dig,

dig and subside.
                                 Soon, you are a fine etching,
a thin harmony to mother’s own marrow.

The century ages and you feel a memory,
lithiasis of the still pelvis. A slate for wounds
fixed there in the dancing belly.          If you will sleep,

my lithopedion, sleep. Little stone-cricket,
stone-fox, stone orpine and pippin,
my uprooted fossil, lily snapped from stalk.
Posted 09/05/12
"Lithopedion" comes from the Greek "lithos" meaning "stone" and "paidion" meaning "child," and designating a fetus that has died during an ectopic or abdominal pregnancy and turned to bone within the body, like a sculptor turns living flesh to stone. In this rare instance, the mother's body protects itself from a foreign object outside of the womb. It may remain undiagnosed for decades.
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