Hecuba and Gravity

by Janet McNally

When she was young, she saw Hokusai’s prints of Mt. Fuji,
its peak a gentle slope in red ink and gray. Snow-pink
spring trees, diamond-sharp kites on fine black strings.
She wanted to unfasten the clouds, peel the swirling birds
away from their updraft spins. She couldn’t quite love
the two dimensions. So she folded squares of paper
into animal shapes—here, a pointed shoulder, there,
a triangle of ear—and arranged them on a windowsill.
Sometimes the wind would make them flutter to the floor.

Which is to say, she always knew what would happen,
if only in her sleep. In her dreams, the baby falls
like the cherry blossoms she’s never seen.

Janet McNally has published fiction and poetry in Gettysburg Review, North American Review, Alaska Quarterly Review, Crab Orchard Review, Confrontation, and others. She is a graduate of the MFA program at the University of Notre Dame, and in 2008 was awarded a fellowship in fiction by the New York Foundation for the Arts. She teaches creative writing at Canisius College in Buffalo, New York.