Couvade Syndrome

by Bryan Owens

Conception can dissolve gender boundaries
is how Dr. Mangal described
the psychosomatic response some men experience
when their partners conceive. So what choice
did I have when his subtext buzzed
like a tractor through an open window
that you may not have to suffer alone,
as in God’s thought of conception,
so long as I can find a way to punch through
the saran wrap of being a man.

We’re looking at an olive
or a large blueberry the nurse tells us, offering
the inarticulate size of the thing up
to our mouths, and in a feathery way
I feel it drift downward to my pelvic floor,
sprouting legs and wandering against
the occasional flurry of wasabi peas and beer,
but sometimes, like when you sleep
on my chest, she reclines in us
a hammock tied between our abdomens.
But I don’t get sonograms–

no, I look into myself
in the glass doors of the frozen food section.
The lamps alight when a warm body approaches
an achievement in energy conservation
but also a warm kind of greeting as though to say
hello friend, and
what kind of potatoes will you be needing today.

But these doors only tell me what I already know,
that our Olive will grow into an ice sculpture of her father,
and while you’re hung up
on what kind of veggie patties to buy
darkness moves into the refrigerator doors we’ve just passed,
and I know she’ll fall in love
with moments like this

or with crepe myrtles bursting like lips, the interrupted
kiss between the street and the blossoms
that stains the pavement fuchsia,

or the day she drives her father
to her new house in Alston or Brooklyn.
I don’t know where you are now, hon
because there is no backseat in this fantasy,
but the shadows of trees comb the windshield
and parked cars line the curbs so the oncoming truck
has to duck into the gap of a driveway.

She studies the numbers on each house
and ignores the other driver
but I stare him down as though to say
that’s right bitch, you better move.


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