I decry the manner in which my world / was ransacked after dark, / by you, ghostly marauder / (bearded with ash, shrugging / shoulders of mould, eyes / gleaming deadwood) // You scuttled roughshod, / cunning as rust, combing the fields / for my daughter until— / wife procured—you plummeted / to your replica earth. And she, / like a pearl impaled / on a hook.
My son held a bird / today on a class trip to the nature center. / At home, with an empty hand, he demonstrates / how to hold a bird using just three fingers / so as not to hurt the bird and / so it can’t hurt itself with its flapping.
Every week at birth class it’s the same / story the same flooding as we watch / a grainy movie of our long-awaited journey— / darkened sanctum heave and sweat / naked woman half-reclining / midwives kneeling rubbing soothing
We relocated the plants today– / disrupted whole ecosystems / unseen to our eyes. / We had to make room / for the new extension. / The gardener said / the plants might not take root / in their new soil– / but we had to take a chance.
I carried my four-month-old / through my father’s field / along sunny mud walls. / At first I pointed, / saying the names of things– / bee, red willow, crab apple– / then I thought, what’s the hurry / in naming the world?
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.
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.