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After Page One: The Journey
Literary Mama Rewind: Illnesses
Last month, we began our journey into a year-long Birthing the Mother Writer Class by exploring poetry as a map. In this month’s column, we read a poem by a mother with a toddler daughter, and hear her reflections on geographical space and writing time, the poetic elements of line breaks, voice, and rhythm, and being present in daily life.
Many days, I tell myself that this is the season for survival, not south. My little ones are so very, very little. Some days it’s all I can do to keep everyone’s tummy full and bottom wiped. I haven’t slept through the night in over a year—if that’s not a bare season, a survival-only season, I don’t know what is. Better to keep to the pond.
When it came time to help Ethan through the college selection process, my ex and I took a divide-and-conquer approach. I flew with our boy to Ann Arbor for a tour of The University of Michigan. Richard drove him to Charlottesville to check out the University of Virginia. On a rainy summer afternoon Ethan and I slogged around the sprawling grounds of Fordham’s Bronx campus. And, finally, decision nearly made, Richard drove him to University Park for Penn State’s Accepted Students’ Day.
Do I need to simplify, get back to basics, stop being complicated? Just be a mom, or just work? Focus on one place and language, or the other, and stop mixing?
I saw on the screen a night full of blurry stars, a black and white silent film. You a starlet, me a bewildered viewer, lost without the subtitles.
“Are you done?” people ask us all the time. We offer vague, non-responses or jokes in reply, and then we change the subject.
I didn’t hate the ex’s taste: brown and greens she’d try to insert into Jeff’s preferences of greys and blacks. Still, the house didn’t feel like home.
Amanda Quinn was cooling her jealousy on the rooftop of Time—Manila’s (not very) secret hotspot—when she got the call. She scoped out the gathering storm while avoiding a despedida for a friend: pregnancy whisking another smart, funny, foreign woman back to her home country.
Black clouds marched from the east, blowing the venue’s red paper lanterns like baubles. The air beaded against her skin in acid sweat. Her tank pinched her ribs. Danny had a thing for structure in women’s fashion.
She checked her watch. He said he’d be here any minute, but she knew he wouldn’t be. Of course, if she’d had a child from her earlier pregnancies, she couldn’t be up here, feigning intimacy with people she barely knew.
When October recurs and we compile another reading list on our traditional theme, I’m always amazed at the diversity of literature that the topic can encompass.
Open receptivity. That’s what I’m practicing this week. Not just writing, but remembering how to let myself sink into spaciousness, unhurriedness.
She was born, when time had stretched like a muscle, contracted and hung, contracted and hung
I don’t mean to tell such sad stories.
I am tipsy. It is day four of my period.
I birthed a milky clump,
a marble with fur
There is no more room for swimming
The channels of motherhood
At the sink washing dishes
I almost believed
I was a mother
you would have been
another beautiful disaster
my body couldn’t bear
Katrina Kittle is the author of four adult novels—Traveling Light, Two Truths and a Lie, The Kindness of Strangers, and The Blessings of the Animals—as well as the young adult novel, Reasons to be Happy. In her former life, Kittle was a teacher at The Miami Valley School and Centerville High School, both located in Centerville, Ohio. She currently writes and teaches at multiple sites in the Dayton region, including Wright State University, Antioch University, and Word’s Worth Writing Center. In a conversation with profiles editor Christina Consolino, Kittle talks about her inspiration for book topics and characters, keeping creative energy alive, her mother’s influence on her writing, and how a diagnosis of breast cancer helped her find that elusive balance in life.
Throughout Geode, quotidian details open into richly complex metaphors, much like the seemingly simple rock from which this book takes its title.
When journalist Tina Traster visited a Siberian orphanage in 2003 to adopt a baby girl, she wondered if she and her baby would bond, but she dismissed her unease. Julia, at eight months (an almost unheard-of young age for Russian adoptees), was healthy and beautiful. Like many of us who adopt after infertility, Traster and her husband, Ricky Tannenbaum, felt lucky; their journey was defined by an optimistic, almost willfully naïve frame of mind.