Mark Neely
Self-portrait, Poorly Lit

Wind bends the double-paned
windows, bangs the kitchen door
like a busted tambourine.

Two years ago an ice storm shut down
the city—huge maple limbs cracked
and crashed all around our house

where we bundled our baby daughter in the
dark, held her in a square of warmth
around the fireplace while the dogs

paced nervously behind.
Now she’s three years old.
We’ve lost both dogs

since then, and two babies,
our memories of them
like the gray shadows

of an ultrasound. My wife and child
twist out of the driveway’s mouth. I gulp coffee
under a yellow light bulb—trying to throw

a few switches in the old, corroded brain—
and fill out a medical form in a shivery scrawl:
one living child.