It's Hard to Hug a Pregnant Woman
by Al Gabor

It's hard to hug a pregnant woman in bed.
She is bigger;
every spot is a tender spot.
Between her knees, a pillow to ease her back.
She seems out of reach.
It's hard to sleep next to a pregnant woman.

She asks things like:
If you needed to, could you apply a tourniquet?
Why does our car sound like sharpening knives?
Is it me, or do the crickets sound like they're arguing?

Sleeping on the downstairs couch
is like sleeping in the bow of a ship.
From here the highway sounds like the ocean.
I drift and the waves carry me.

The city on the coast
has houses big as cathedrals,
playgrounds like black prairies.
Angels dressed as crossing guards,
their orange belts radiant,
receive me on the shore,
walk me here and there,
tell me familiar stories
from strange perspectives,
then tuck me back into my boat.

I open my eyes.
My wife stands before me.
"I think she's trying to jog,"
she says, putting my hand on her belly,
taut as a sail cupping the wind.
I feel a pulse, a code,
and send a message in return.
Rest easy. Land is in sight.
People, some whose voices you know,
walk the shoreline,

Originally published in the anthology XY Files: Poems on the Male Experience (Sherman Asher Publishing)