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The Blue Mattress

"They found a double helix on the floor"

Published onOct 15, 2023
The Blue Mattress

Photo by Steve Johnson:

The Blue Mattress
– after no one . . . but me

The first time I levitated
was my first day in the hospital’s
blue crib. I commanded
the mattress pad to rise,

then for us to shrink.
We flew out an air vent.
I banged my head on a duct.
That’s how I got this cowlick,

or as I call it, a ducklick.
These things aren’t genetic.
I would know, as I’ve no DNA.
It fell out when I miniaturized.

This is when the cover up began.
They found a double helix
on the floor, and deduced,
as doctors do, it was mine –

my secret, second umbilical cord.
It’s not uncommon. Moses had one.
His mom didn’t tie it securely
to the pier. Later, as he drifted

down the Nile, he saw it slice the river
and turn its river flow from south
to north. Then it caught in the reeds.
That’s how he was found.

In his old age at the Red Sea,
he remembered this trick and conjured
spiritus praecisus umbilicus.
But you know all this.

Everyone does. It’s medical
fact. And this is how I breached
the hospital and learned to live
on my own and feed myself

with mine own hands. Who needs
maternal attachments when I can
make myself invisible and fly
on a mattress of possibility.

For over twenty years, Tom Holmes is the founding editor of Redactions: Poetry & Poetics. Holmes is also the author of five full-length collections of poetry, including The Book of Incurable Dreams (forthcoming from Xavier Review Press) and The Cave, which won The Bitter Oleander Press Library of Poetry Book Award for 2013, as well as four chapbooks. He teaches at Nashville State Community College (Clarksville). His writings about wine, poetry book reviews, and poetry can be found at his blog, The Line Break: Follow him on Twitter: @TheLineBreak

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