Participating in Women’s Talk

I look at cribs
The way my dogs looks at new sounds.
I tilt my head, put my nose out a little.
I wonder “What is that for?”
I press my hands to my belly,
Feeling wobbly intestines under my insulating fat.
I’m full of food and muscle, not beings.

Women ask me when.
Men don’t.
I’m withering, they imply.
My belly, full gourd of potential
Is shriveling.
Full of blackened seeds
Wasting away, unplanted, unfurrowed.
I tilt my head, dissecting the faint sound
Of not doing what’s expected.

I never seem to muster the energy for it.
Seeing children and thinking “how nice.”
I see cribs and tilt my head.
I placed a child in one once, years ago,
When women would ask me when
And note how well I held my sister’s boy.
How maternal I was
Wink.
A matter of time.
Wink.
Wasted opportunity, they said.

They don’t know that I only feel my guts
When I caress my belly.
Or they do
And it scares the shit out of them.
That I would be content to walk with detachment
Through the baby aisles,
Interested in creating other things
Than life.