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Great Expectations

by Sean McQuinney

The solar-system mobile back home

bobbed in the air-conditioned breeze

while Toni was lying in the hospital,


spread legs in stirrups and her belly

slicked with medical gel the doctor 

never bothered wiping away before sending her, 


septic and fading, to an operating room.

She had lost the girl in the night. 

The boy was a blotch of flesh hidden 


by his sister on the sonogram. 

He was a shadow of a heartbeat.

After the girl had been removed 


(they called it a reduction), 

Toni whispered names:

Sarah. Estella. Clara. Alison.


A nurse sponged away the gel, 

the iodine, the clotted blood, the stool, 

and carried away the spent gauze.

About the Author

Sean McQuinney earned his MFA in Poetry from the University of Florida in 2019 studying under Ange Mlinko, Michael Hofmann, and William Logan. He has publications in South 85 and in Frontier Poetry.

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