Resurrection of Mother and Child

poetry 0
Sara Moore Wagner


—after Johannes August Nahl’s “The Tomb of Madame Langhans”

Bury a woman with her stillborn,
the baby crawls out fingers first
as the child of Maria Magdelena Langhans: Cherubic
as a messiah. When a man breaks death in art:
it means beauty and birth. Forget
the shells of all these cracked face days.
Later, the mother will push out of the tomb
bare-breasted, marble folds pristine.
Let us go. I want to show up as I am now,
my body used and spent, body a husk, meaty
and unused to the moth flapping,
the one I’ll give up on dying, opening my mouth
like a birth canal. Here is our resurrection:
A spirit is deposited
back inside an orifice: awake again,
meant to do it again, this cycle of opening legs
and bearing down. Never mind the world isn’t
made for us, this simple stone monument
they lay us in, our faces crafted
gaze and glaze. The blueness
of a cathedral. These names.
What can we take from this life except our children,
behind us into a grave, pulled and stamped eggs
on a conveyor belt, one after the other, born
out and nurtured, fussed over, hatching
into their own ends like it’s a new world (it isn’t)
(it never was).

Sara Moore Wagner is an Ohio mother of three, the recipient of a 2019 Sustainable Arts Foundation award, and the author of two chapbooks. Her poetry has appeared or is forthcoming in many journals, including Beloit Poetry Journal and Rhino, among others.