First, you had to learn oxygen—

pickled in her brine for nine months 

the lifetime supply

was snipped by a doctor

with a soap opera name 

while she slept in the maternity ward

in a drugged stupor. Superheroes

do not have mothers for long.

We had to get you ready.

Before she emerged from the anesthesia,

formula from a can. Of course, 

I had you circumcised! We moved 

to the bottom of the ocean

what better preparation for the total

separation that was to come. 

While I read the texts of an ancient

civilization in a waterproof house

(that was always damp with towels

and bathing suits) you learned

to swim under ear popping pressure

with whales, gardens of sand eels, sea slugs

and seals. What else could you do with no one

to talk to? They didn’t talk back—you were

a curiosity-- and you couldn’t control them

either. That was the myth you wrote for yourself.

What other consolation was there

with no one to love at the bottom

of a motherless sea?

Michael Carter writes: My work has appeared in Ploughshares, Boulevard, Columbia Poetry Review, Infinite Rust, and Provincetown Arts Magazine among many others. I am a two-time Writers by Writing Tomales Bay Fellow, a Nadya Aisenberg Fellow at the Writer’s Room of Boston and was recently a Summer 2018 Wolf House Resident.  I have poems forthcoming from Black Rabbit Review, Western Humanities Review and The Dandelion Review.


A graduate of Sarah Lawrence College, I have an MFA from Vermont College and an MSW from Smith College School for Social Work. I am a poet and psychotherapist living in Connecticut.