At thirty-nine, 

she tells me I cannot get pregnant.

Seventeen IVF treatments in three years,

each with a twenty percent chance of success, 

have failed to fertilize eggs too long dormant.

The voice inside her still swollen body breaks off

as a cyclone of emptiness expands 

to fill the sky around us.


I struggle to face her grief

as her tears collect against a barrier

that prevents two lives from joining within her.

She pulls her jacket tightly around her.

She smiles for my sake and says,

I’m proud of myself for coming here to swim.

I smile back because I believe her.

I talk about the comfort of movement,

not about the possibility of adoption.

I will look for you here again, I say.


Marianne Brems’ two poetry chapbooks are Sliver of Change (Finishing Line Press, 2020) and Unsung Offerings (Finishing Line Press, 2021). Her poems have also appeared in literary journals including Nightingale & Sparrow, The Sunlight Press, The Lake, and Green Ink Poetry. She lives and cycles in Northern California. Website: www.mariannebrems.com.