For the mother who rises / in darkness to baby sleep noises / sigh tiny cough exhale little grunt // blanketed in the film of her eye, / tucked into her heartbeat. / She cries over capturing her own silent film. // This is a new year of industry. / Tears soaking her palm, she prays hard / to the one God above the sanctuary– …
A modest stardom, her opera’s at home: / a yam-ham Pampers rhapsody. / Part shopper, mopper, mad horse / stopper, she tames the yard, / shreds the reams, a poet trapped / at Pharaoh’s hamper.
Mama sprinkled sumac on greasy burgers / because fast food smelled like burning tires. // Aleppo pepper drizzled like red rain / on the macaroni and cheese. She added // a pinch of cumin on the Cobb salad / because the ranch dressing felt naked // on her tongue.
Sarah Dickenson Snyder
I doubt she’ll return / the things she’s taken— / a lipstick, tweezers, a necklace. // I’m not too mad, except maybe in the moment— / when I’m in the shower, leg lathered, reach for the razor / I’d left on the lip of the tub.
It took the town of Salem / nine months / to press and burn
Julia C. Alter
Almost laughter, dagger, slaughter. / Dough proofing in the womb like unspoken utterance / on uncertain tongue / aught to, doubt her, after // All that came before you disappears like the meaning of a word / after staring at it for too long // No morphemes to take you apart and put you back / together.
Michelle S. Ramadan
The Amazons raised their daughters warlike: / muscles sculpted marble, a singular breast // burnt at puberty for bow handling. / Of course, all women are raised for war.
What gnawed away was the suspicion that the worst in us / was preserved in pristine dormancy in these whole other beings. / We’d repeated the mistakes our progenitors had made before us, / unkept our avowals and squandered our numerous redemptions. / The cruel promise of procreation had seemed the summation of it all. / And yet, we’d often ask, from where came all the goodness in them?
I think of the word // prune, as in the necessary cutting / back, stack of limber limbs snipped // perhaps in their prime, in order / to ensure a bigger tree. That gloved // hand that holds the shears? That’s / me, and both of us bleed.
In time, I grunt. She wobbles. I worry about neck strength. / How we never needed it in our water prisons. We needed / mermaid fins. In the dark within our mothers.
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.