21 November 2008 | Vol. 8, No. 4

Advice to the Expectant Father

Say the pelvis is untested, you're rookies,

the cervix ripening when the mucus plug

unglues. Beware a false labor. (All work,

no pay.) They will measure descent by plus

or minus from the zero station. Inform

your provider. Let inhale volume equal

exhale volume. They will roll her

through the hallways that summon life

and death. They will cleave her into two

from which you will choose one to monitor.

Pack popsicle, lollipop and ice chip.

She has grown a new organ for this.

The baby will gum out slimed in vernix.

His back may be quilted with lanugo.

You will learn to swaddle, shush and wipe

the first meconium, like sticky candy,

buoyed by colostrum. You will wheel

your kin in plastic bassinet, dazed

along the laminated floor. Do not carry.

Do not drop. Preserve the furry fontanelles,

the skull's lacunae. You will return

each night to the admitting hall to see

where you began. But you can't

go back there. You can't get in.

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About the author:

Stephen Neal Weiss is the former editor of the Yale Literary Magazine and is the co-author, with his wife Casey Kait, of Digital Hustlers: Living Large and Falling Hard in Silicon Alley (HarperCollins, 2001). His nonfiction writing has appeared in Gourmet, BlackBook, and NYMag.com.

For further reading:

Browse the contents of 42opus Vol. 8, No. 4, where "Advice to the Expectant Father" ran on November 21, 2008. List other work with these same labels: poetry.

42opus is an online magazine of the literary arts.

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