glass womb

Lisa Bradley

In the jar
the twins float,
each the other’s anchor
to a world they’ll never see.
From one angle:
a comforting embrace,
heads curled to one another’s necks.
From another:
an assault,
eyes screwed shut, gums hungry.

My brothers never hug
unless someone’s dying
and then they clutch
the back of each other’s shirts
like weary wrestlers
desperate to avoid
the consolation bracket.

When they were kids,
there were more hugs—
and more tears.
Once, I slipped on an icy sidewalk
and broke my wrist.
Lurching into the backyard
for help, I found Mother
hunched in the boys’ snow fort,
thawing their tears with her mittens,
struggling to construct
a peace accord.

I raise my bottle
to see the world wobble,
motion dribbling
from one rounded edge
to the next.
Instead I spot the worm
embalmed in its glass coffin
and remember that childhood myth:
moms carry babies in their bellies,
rather than their wombs.

I guzzle the mezcal
and larval moth.
My jaundiced wish?
The worm will take root
in my gut
like a ballerina twisting
at the base
of a snow globe.

Worm Baby,
I wish we were sisters
in our own glass jar.
We’d cling together to watch
the swirl of flecks
settle around us—
nothing so bland as plastic,
instead, bone chips
and adipocere.
At night
on the kunstkamera shelf
we’d scream-sing
‘til our curved walls rang,
‘til our neighbors rattled to

the brink, then


each specimen smash
a cymbal crash
opening up
the dark.

Lisa M. Bradley’s first collection of short fiction and poetry is The Haunted Girl (Aqueduct Press). Her poetry has appeared in numerous venues, including Strange Horizons, Stone Telling, Cicada, and Weird Tales. She is currently working on a fantasy novel set on the Texas-Mexico border in the 1930s. Her website is