On the Day You Were Born I

for Russell

You are the miracle doctors said I'd not have.
So small, so fragile, I am afraid I'll break you.

I carried small, no larger than a basketball.
In a lab coat, few could tell I was pregnant.

For two weeks doctors repeated, Any day.
First pains arrived with Christmas dinner.

Birth shock brought tunnel-vision, shivering.
I was not allowed to hold you till morning.

Next day a blizzard struck, three foot snow.
I hold you, feeding to feeding, as you sleep.

On the Day You Were Born II

for Denise

I was in the forty-second of my forty weeks.
A bent-back girl, I was awkward, ungainly.

No vacant room anywhere in the hospital.
I lay on a gurney in a crowded corridor.

Tinsel strands twined outside the window.
Easter's streets shone like patent leather.

Idle doctors placed bets on time-of-birth.
Long dark eyelashes pasted downy cheeks.

Those cheeks bore fingernail scratches.
Fingers to lips, I carefully bit your nails.

You rooted for my nipple like a small pink pig.
Overwhelmed, I could not remember my name.


Ann Howells's poetry appears in Borderlands, Concho River Review, Crannog (Ire), RiverSedge, and Spillway among others. She serves on the board of Dallas Poets Community, 501-c-3 non-profit, and has edited Illya's Honey since 1999, recently taking it digital ( and taking on a co-editor. In 2001, she was named a Distinguished Poet of Dallas by the city. Her chapbooks are, Black Crow in Flight, (Main Street Rag Publishing, 2007) and the Rosebud Diaries (Willet Press, 2012). She has been read on NPR, interviewed on Writers Around Annapolis television, and been four times nominated for a Pushcart, twice in 2014. bent-back Her first book, Under a Lone Star (Village Books Press, 2016), a collection of short Texas poems illustrated by Dallas artist, J. Darrell Kirkley, and a chapbook, Letters for My Daughter (Flutter Press, 2016), were recently released. An anthology of Dallas/Fort Worth poets that she is editing, Cattlemen & Cadillacs (Dallas Poets Community Press), will be released in August.