Tectonic Shift

Thanks to John Amen, editor of Pedestal Magazine, for publishing my poem. https://tinyurl.com/2p936umx

Pedestal Magazine “Wrong Turn” by Chad Weeden
Photograph, © 2023 by Chad Weeden

Tectonic Shift

Downy, soft, fragile newborn skull, a dandelion
waving on its slender stem. No support, poor

support. Hold her head, they caution, cradle
her neck they command. Her heartbeat is visible

through her fontanel, the top of her head—
should that be so pronounced? Her cranial sutures

stand out when she cries, red faced, open
mouthed, distress howl, and you see that her head

is barely held together, five bones and their
unjoined sutures: sagittal, lambdoid, coronal,

metopic. Bone against bone, spreading apart,
overlapping, expanding again, they make room

for growth, unlike the hard adult cranium. Four
arbitrarily named seams on the grid of a head

guard the brain. Some days I slip—my sutures slip
and the parts that were so securely fastened

inside, so integrated, peek out and speak. Just
when you’d think my dandelion would be

a redwood, my fontanel is soft, unexpectedly
fragile. My sutures unhinge, unable to contain

their contents, to lock them in. I thought I was
finished, I protest. I thought I was done. But these

sutures will not join, they will not agree
to house the prison of all my selves