Post-Partum Jenga

I almost see myself trip and shatter
us both on the stairs. I almost see
my arms slip and tumble you over
the balcony to crack on the sidewalk
below. I almost see you lying too still
in your crib before I go to rest hand
on back and make sure you’re still
breathing. And I almost see myself
strapping you to the changing table
so I can lie down and sleep for hours
while you, at least, are safe. But
I make myself breathe and feed
and change and fear and slide
each day off the calendar, wishing
the time away and back at once.

Katie Manning is the founding editor-in-chief of Whale Road Review and an associate professor of writing at Point Loma Nazarene University in San Diego. She is the author of Tasty Other, which won the 2016 Main Street Rag Poetry Book Award, and four chapbooks, including The Gospel of the Bleeding Woman. Her poems have appeared in december, New Letters, Poet Lore, Verse Daily, and many other journals and anthologies. Find her online at

Photo credit: Marcus Emmerson