Sheila-Na-Gig online


Erica Manto Paulson

Erica Manto Paulson: I am a birth worker in Ohio/Kentucky whose poetry is heavily influenced by women and families I serve as a doula and midwife assistant. I am the 2022 Ohio Poet of the Year, a 2021 Pushcart Nominee, and my poems have appeared in Thimble Literary Magazine, Sheila-Na-Gig online, the Northern Appalachia Review, Slippery Elm, and elsewhere.


Unlike other times, talk was easy that night—
the dirt they brought back from Mars and

the way it crumbles under a microscope,
how it appears ordinary in plain daylight.

War and not war, the three-pronged belt
of Orion we could always find together.

On that first, dark night of solstice,
temperatures dropping steadily

in the weighted air of new winter,
the outline of my son’s form appears

unexpectedly boyish under the beaming glow
of planets. Crushed remnants of stars

pouring their fragments through the gaping cup
of the great dipper, the pinnacles

of our obscure frames glittered with light.
Our galaxy has expanded one lightyear

in the amount of time it took the light to travel
between here and the place it reaches you,

he says, like the small creature
who used to nuzzle into me before bed. He is so close

I can almost touch him again, the aching arms
of the old mother I have become hesitating—

fearful of startling the delicate exchange
of our embrace into the heavy thicket

of imagined time. We stand together, particles
of new stars, and hold this space of expanding light—

the way it pulls our unformed darkness into the womb
of possibility, ours the new song of impending birth.