Olivia Stogner

A cradle interrupts—

the flow of traffic.

It rocks in mud ruts full of dispirited bottles
and splintered spoons. These were never silver.
Dandelions in sidewalk crevices grasp at the cradle as cars whizz by.
A rattle waves, like an infantile traffic director.
Tires squeeze and squeal; men mutter.
Some shake their fists, like an infant.

Peripherally, it may be taken as only a box,
wooden, plastic, or cardboard—something disposable—
fallen from a vehicle, hapless and worthless.
So on they go to their tip-top-typed offices
and on they go to their conveyor-tightening-the-belt factories
to say: something rattled in the road and nearly made me late.
Irate about careless drivers.
By lunch they have forgotten

all but being recently rattled.

And all the while, there is one still trying to cross the street,
but the walking man symbol is always changing
too quickly. Going from corner to corner; she is
dodging pedestrians and being pushed back
to the curb like litter in a tidal sea—She left, for only a moment,
to find formula. And there was none, and there was none.
The tidy clerk prattled on about recalls, breast milk,
cow’s milk, condensed milk, and mother’s not staying
at home anymore. She left

with change still jangling in her pockets.

The baby knows little of this, except its hunger,
and the rattling rock of the cradle
with each fast-passing car.

There was no place for them—
even on the sidewalks. She was pressed
to give birth—in the median.