Alternate Endings

Colleen Abel 


I recognize this choosing feeling.

It’s like

giving up a baby, leaving it


in the farthest suburb of this city, swaddled on steps

of the fire department or in the foyer of St. Xavier’s Hospital.


It feels that alive.


Certainly, I’m giving up its first moments,

its origin, its attendants.


I give up the first twitchy movements,

the toys, the tears. I’ll give up its cradle, certainly.


I give up the before-birth, too, the doula

and the doctor,


surrender its piecemeal composition. And I give up

the cells it’s made of:


air-light, molecular, sticky.


And then fifteen years later, I go back to the farthest suburb

to the split-level with the swingset in back,


neatly kept and humble, with the neighbors holding

down their blinds with one finger


watching the car that’s idling on their street.

And I would ring the strange doorbell and the window

in the door would become a mirror


with the baby’s face / girl’s face and mine looking

back at me


and I will let go of the desire to know, nobody

will have an idea


how little effort it takes to relinquish any life.