The Encyclopedia by Christine Smart

When I was a child, I read the science encyclopedia
to find my origins. The fetus floating in a bubble,
didn’t look like me, nor did the fin-tailed fish
called spermatozoa. Watery, translucent, amoeboid,
slick as albumin; ovum, sperm, fallopian
sounding like flowers or foreign fruits
I couldn’t grasp in my hands
the way I held that stiff book.  

A red flush crept up my neck and cheeks
as if someone watched me read,
not the Bible, nor Anne of Green Gables 
but the Encyclopedia sold to my mother
by a traveling salesman. 
Between its grey covers some truth
to convey to my daughter as she spills
out of her jeans and leans 
deeper into the space
I’m leaving behind. 

 

Copyright © Christine Smart.

 

Christine Smart is the author of The White Crow (Hedgerow Press, 2013) and decked and dancing, which won the Acorn-Plantos People’s Poet Award in 2007. Christine is the artistic director for the Saltspring Island Poetry Open Mic.

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