Five Months, in Washington

I take a picture of Niki – five months
along, three days from the first ultrasound –
in front of the triceratops,
Human voices echo off the tall ceiling,
the open hall, the elephant display in the lobby,
the remains of what’s come before us.

huge anteaters, sabertooth tigers,
strange, small horses with toes instead of hooves,
fantastical fish with 3-pronged teeth
and eyes in unexpected locations,
animals too big to believe, too weird to live among humans,
a giant ground sloth with leg bones like building blocks
huge discs along dinosaur backbones,
tiny heads, giant tails

There’s a woolly mammoth, a bronchiosaurus,
an ancient horse in Niki’s womb.
Anything is possible.
This is a period of rapid growth,
after all, and the mother’s surroundings
can influence her child’s development.

When it’s born, I’ll look for
a penis bone, eyes in the wrong place
something pointing
to this Miocene afternoon.

Brenda Miller