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Creative Nonfiction

Underwater by Angel Sands Gunn: I never liked water. As a child, I didn’t have the luxury of it. Poor girls only learn the strokes necessary to keep from drowning.


Cabin Fever by Nicole Stellon O'Donnell:  When it’s this cold, I get a taste of what life on a space station must be like. To go outside, I pile into a giant Carhartt parka coat, pull on thick fleece pants. I tie my mukluks and then tie the kids’ mukluks and zip the kids’ coats. And I always put my own mittens on last. It’s the opposite of what they tell you about the airplane oxygen mask. I need my fingers free as long as possible in case I need to unbundle one of the girls, who at the very last minute needs to go to the bathroom.

The Invisible Dog by B. L. Pike:  I have never been a dog person. I like the idea of them well enough, but in the course of raising nine kids I’d never before made time in my life to know one well. We had plenty of pets, several dogs among them. Outdoor dogs, all rough and tumble, and only marginally domesticated. They always had more to do with the kids than they did with me, and that was just fine.

Winter Greens by Katherine J. Barrett:  The shift I seek during long, cold January will eventually arrive. The kids will grow. The earth will tilt. Green will sprout from garden beds and flourish into bitter-sweet salads in our coldframe and on our table. And someday, my kids will eat them.

Reader Response to Being a Natural Mother by Cassie Premo Steele:
Last month's column invited readers to submit poems on "mothering differently." Cassie Premo Steele shares two beautiful poems about our sometimes painfully complex mother-daughter relationships, as well as a discussion about daughters, mothers, difference, and poetry.


Sympathetic Creatures by Amy Hassinger:  She handed the computer back to the FedEx guy, who gave her a flabby, perfunctory sort of grin, the kind of grin that indicated that he had seen the red bra strap and found it pathetic rather than enticing. She closed the door behind him, hard.

Literary Reflections

Essential Reading: Beginnings compiled by Libby Maxey:  With a new year comes a new impulse to examine ourselves and the way the various pieces of our identities fit together. This month, our editors recommend reading that speaks to the changing configurations of our lives, for whether one is taking the first steps into motherhood or simply waking up to another as-yet-unlived day, there is always a new beginning.

Now Reading: January compiled by Libby Maxey:   From Revolutionary France to the ancient Judaean Desert to modern-day India and the Ukraine, this month's "Now Reading" list is a sweeping international tour that will take you through the many-chambered heart of the human experience.


The terror is in the way it holds you by Renee Emerson:

Eight months pregnant,
I hang a clothesline in the back lawn.
In the nursery window, a garden spider
embraces its tightwoven prey.

Skipping Rocks on Lake Superior by Cheryl Weibye Wilke:

She asked if I’d like to skip
rocks with her, this daughter
of mine—my nine-year-old hopping
onto the lunar carpet
of Lake Superior.

Her Mother Confesses by Gillian Wegener:

Your well-meaning father rid the kingdom
of all the spindles, the wheels, the needles
that witch said would kill you. But I, guilty,
in a little room, a closet really, hid one…

Nature Walk by Gillian Wegener:

The fern fronds glow with a clean, green light,
and I lift one and point out the spores, curled
like sleep on the back, the rows so straight,
so even, that I might be convinced of Providence…

Aria by Janette Ayachi:

Since my surrender to the cadenza
Of the spear minted midwives
You swing inside me like a village hall bell
Tugged by the surgeon squire…


Maternal Belonging as a Means to Freedom by Gillian Marchenko:  Three recent short story collections, The Beautiful One Has Come, by Suzanne Kamata, Shout Her Lovely Name, by Natalie Serber, and This Crowded Night by Elrena Evans all address ordinary people trapping moments of motherly belonging as a means to different freedoms we all desire -- individual, spiritual, cultural -- connections that often come, like my own with that new baby, when they least anticipate it. Kamata keys in on the necessity of cultural freedom as a means of belonging, while Serber and Evans tackle other examples of freedom such as individual and religious.

The Literary Mama Blog Editor searches for mama-centric news you can use — including information about publishing opportunities and literacy efforts; essays and writing prompts that motivate and inspire; and announcements about events, classes, and workshops. The current blog editor is Rudri Patel; read her bio here.

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