Tokyo High Rise by Lawrence Bridges


Daisy Bassen

I delivered seventeen placentas that summer,

maybe eighteen, I didn’t keep track.

I didn’t understand yet why I should—

I’d bought the party line that the baby

was the main attraction, you had to be alert

for a nuchal cord, blue amber in lumps

around her neck, reduced with legerdemain.

Magic— that was the goal anyway. Not the placenta

livid aspic in a silver tray, taken to pathology

only to search for its failures, then discarded.

No one was planting them at the foot of a sapling

then. It’s nice, I guess, but you still pay

attention to the tree, its slender trunk, white

blossom like a bewildering squall in May.

The placenta is forgotten again, purposefully,

the way any small adulation of the woman

in the broken-down bed has been forgotten.

I’m being generous in ascribing forgetfulness

to us all; there’s a revulsion at seeing

what’s required to create sentience, the thrilled cry

that will one day be echoed when she discovers

semiotics, breath’s charged equilibration with air.

The truth: the least qualified person in the room

was tasked with making sure the mother

(her complete identity at the moment of birth,

like crystalline iodine, sublimating)

would survive. A placenta, tethered, undelivered,

is a death sentence, but only for one person.

The first person you never remember.




Daisy Bassen (@dgbassen) is a poet, novelist, and physician whose work has appeared in McSweeney’s and [PANK], among other journals. She’s a happily transplanted Rhode Islander.