Having been raised on Grimm / we mothers set rules: Don’t take apples / cakes or candies from strangers. Don’t fall / for promises. We call our children in / at dusk. // But the children want to dig up the trick / of being simultaneously brave / and queasy-stomached, / as oaks and rhododendrons quick- / change into robbers and bears.
I’m mother trucking down / a real highway to Hell, / bumper to bumper, / horns blaring— // Dammit, he head-shotted me! / Desmond yells at his Fortnite Hell, // as bicycles whir by / my bird-shat window, // and afternoon traffic / and motherhood / head-shot me.
As the languorous calm of winter ends, / enter gardeners, whirling bees– / riotous breakaway / Spring. / And all the things I wanted to hold onto– / a child’s hand, cool as an oboe; / lamplight; reading / by the window / lying in bed with extra pillows, / talking to my daughter, texture / of voices like patent leather / straps overlapping– / begin to loosen.
Selin Tuysuzoglu Sagalowsky
When the milk comes down like nightfall, / nostalgia reeks of onions and camphor / in the corner apartment of Baghdad Street. / Come, I will swathe you in Grandmother’s / linens, starched with Arabic soap and lemons.
Marissa Coon Rose
I leave the doctor’s office, / blood in my underwear. / Quietly, you are over. / In the elevator, // I think about that time / I didn’t learn to swim: / emerging from the lake chin-first.
Barren whelk shell— flesh, / warm and enviable, once. Whorled / scars ravish bleached calcium. // Is there a conspiracy? I ask my best friend who laughs too quickly. / We’re walking along Priscilla Beach two weeks beyond my mastectomy. // The Atlantic, too, has a story spilling fast beneath its veneer— vast / current, forging this island where I nurse from stapled fruit.
Except the baby is right here / breathing in my arms. // My body is just a whole different body / ligaments longer, softer / stretched by 40%, my doctor said, / ruined.
I pull the tape measure taut / against my daughter’s spine / run it around her forehead, / her chest, down her arm / marking numbers onto quick / outline penciled on a scrap / of paper as she stands tall // and still.
Silence sanctioned with bird’s song. / Sandalwood smoke oscillates snake-like / from altar into air. // Gong resounds, a break! A break! / Stealthily, I check my phone, the screen / displays: Car totalled.
…I think of all the plain things // I love. A room without music. / A fresh flat duvet laid on the bed. // An unset table. I put the bracelets / in their box. They jangle // In the cotton nest.
We publish poetry that has some element of the unexpected–whether it’s the language, the imagery, or the emotion—yet feels honest. Do you have a poem that acknowledges the intensity of motherhood? Read more about submitting your work here.