airplane heart
I was in mid-air
by Leslie Neustadt

            when my granddaughter arrived
on the anniversary of my mother’s death,
as if she’d willed me a girl child.

Every week, the doctor peered into her heart,
searching for flaws while Maia nestled
in her mother’s troubled womb.

At term, Maia refused to descend.
After 30 hours, Sylvia was sliced open
and Maia scooped up.

She was feisty as a ferret. Her electrical
signals marched in perfect rhythm.
No pacemaker needed, as feared.

My own baby girl had failed to survive.
After forty years, my lungs opened
like a fan from Maia’s sweet breath.

A sigh slid from my lips. No longer
a woman with a litany, her birth
limned my cracks with gold.

Photo by Frenta.

NOTE FROM THE AUTHOR: I was heartbroken when, many years ago, my only daughter was born prematurely and died shortly after birth. When my granddaughter, Maia, entered the world healthy despite her mother’s high-risk pregnancy, it was cause for celebration.

Neustadt Headshot

ABOUT THE AUTHOR: Poet, writer, and visual artist Leslie Neustadt is a retired New York Assistant Attorney General and the author of Bearing Fruit: A Poetic Journey. She is a former board member of the International Women’s Writing Guild and a member of the Hudson Valley Writers Guild, where she created an award-winning Community of Jewish Writers reading series in the Capital Region. Leslie’s writing and art are illuminated by her Jewish background, commitment to social justice and gender equality, and her experiences as a woman, daughter, wife, mother, and cancer patient. Visit her at