Linda Gregerson

(August 5, 1950 / Illinois)


Poem by Linda Gregerson

At the foot of the download anchored
the usual flotsam of ads,

this link: to who for
a fraction
of the retail price can

solve my underground drainage woes, which
tells me
the software has finally

run amok. Because the article, you see,
the rescue from a sewage

pipe of Baby 59, five pounds,
placenta still
attached, in Zhejiang

Province, where officials even as I read
are debating
the merits of throwing

the mother in jail. Communal
toilet. Father
nowhere to be found.

The gods in their mercy once
could turn
a frightened girl to

water or a shamed one to a tree,
but they
no longer seem

to take our troubles much
to heart.
And so the men with

hacksaws do their gentle best—consider
the infant
shoulders, consider the lids—

and this one child among millions,
a second time to what

we still call breathable air, survives
to pull
the chords of sentiment

and commerce.
Don't make the poem
too sad, says Megan,

thinking at first (we both of us
think) the child
must be a girl or otherwise

damaged, thus (this part she doesn't
say) like her.
Who is the ground

of all I hope and fear for in the world.
Who'll buy?
Or as the hawkers

on the pavement used to put it, What
d'you lack?
The download comes with

pictures too. Of workmen, wrenches,
bits of shattered
PVC, and one for whom

the whole of it—commotion, cameras,
IV needle in the scalp—
is not more strange

than ordinary daylight.
Welcome, Number
59. Here's milk

from a bottle and here's a nearly
human hand.

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Poem Submitted: Friday, July 6, 2018