Serving House: A Journal of Literary Arts
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SHJ Issue 10
Fall 2014

[Three Poems]

by Heidi Henning

Flesh by Bone

you were no bigger than a drop of blood
when I learned of your arrival—
but somehow my body knit you 
flesh by bone, so that when you appeared
on screen that first time,
you were curled like a shrimp,
rocked by the thick sea in my womb.
You were a little alien with your lidless eye,
webbed hands, and bulbous skull.
Three months later, though your bones 
were still eggshells, I could no longer see
through the thin wall of your flesh,
could not see the dark, pulsing mass
of your heart. Your eyes were sealed,
and you kicked blindly in the dark water
that held you. I felt you thrust and flutter—
believed in your permanence. 
So much so, that when that world finally 
released you in a warm rush between my thighs,
I couldn’t comprehend your silent blue body,
nervous glances from doctors and nurses, 
or the umbilical cord coiled tight and hard
around your neck like a bitter clinging vine.


Kitchen Creek, 1995

For B.
After pitching our tent by lantern,
we zipped our thin sleeping bags together
while wind whipped the branches overhead.

In the morning, you and I stepped 
into an astonishing world. 
The hard, mahogany land
gave itself over to winter.
Ice hung in long fingers
from black branches;
small birds wheeled around the sky.
The earth gleamed like treasure.

you slipped your bare hand 
into mine. 

Even the slender blades of grass 
were taken by surprise.


Nothing Quite Like a Cat

For Dale (7/7/86–12/24/98)
I am convinced that you were seven times more intriguing
than Christopher Smart’s cat Jeoffry. 

Because your bald belly was full like the Buddha’s.

Because your random kisses on my face
were not to be taken lightly.

Because you allowed me to drape your long body
around my neck like a living fur.

Because you were 28 pounds and mewed
like an eight-week-old kitten.

Because for nearly thirteen years, the floor boards rumbled
as you raced through the house on your pink pads.

Because we were both a little overweight 
and afraid of the world.

Because Neruda was right:
“Nothing hangs together quite like a cat.”


—All three poems are from Flesh by Bone (Lulu, 2013); reprinted by author’s permission
SHJ Issue 10
Fall 2014

Heidi Henning

currently resides in Peoria, Illinois, and has been writing poetry for about 20 years. She graduated from San Diego State University with a degree in English with an emphasis in Creative Writing. In 2013, she published a chapbook, Flesh by Bone. For copies, please contact her at: feistyheidi76 [at] gmail [dot] com.

“...we have been born here to witness and celebrate. We wonder at our purpose for living. Our purpose
is to perceive the fantastic. Why have a universe if there is no audience?” — Ray Bradbury