Photo by Giulia May on Unsplash


A pipe is a globe of loss— the baby
has no diapers and auntie had to bring some by.
Women on the street scream and yell at
motherfuckers. The men snore and groan
on the curbside. You empty your pockets—
bobby pins and dimes and lint—
on the dresser. The mirror with the baby’s finger-
prints on it. The lights aren’t back on yet—
but the baby’s father comes back.
You make love by candlelight.
The woman from upstairs says I fucked your man
in your car.
Finally, you get the courage
to leave. Eviction comes first. Credit score
plummets like an airplane. You make the baby
a pool for her dolls with a ceramic bowl.
Your mother says you can come home for a while.
You make 4.25 an hour as a bank teller. The baby’s father
puts a red bow in her hair before you pick her up—.
He has always made you smile.
The night is an eruption of nebulas—
you pat the baby’s back to get her to sleep. Shhh.
Casual sirens fade. She is your reason for being
until a man touches you. You call back the married man
you think is the love of your life. He says Baby
on the answering machine. You make another life
together in the only tenderness you know—
then you make that life disappear without a name.
You killed my son—the love of your life says.
You think, Men will never know what it is to carry
a life when you can’t even burden your own.

E. Hughes

E. Hughes is a PhD student in the Program for Writers at the University Illinois at Chicago. She received her MFA+MA from the Litowitz Creative Writing Program at Northwestern University. Her poems have been published or are forthcoming in Poet Lore, The Offing, Chicago Quarterly Review, Protean Magazine, and Wildness Magazine—among others. In 2017, she was nominated for a Pushcart Prize. Hughes has been a participant in Tin House summer and winter workshops, the Zora Neale Hurston/Richard Wright Foundation workshop, as well as the Palm Beach Poetry Festival. You can find her on Instagram and Twitter @e_hughes_poetry.