Literary Mama writing about the many faces of motherhood
nighttime with dorothea

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I.
the room is dim,
light peeks out from the closet
vertical slats across the carpet.

i tromp over the dog bed
wearing last year's big-heeled boots

baby in one arm
shrugging, flinging.
my jacket falls to the floor.
i rip a velcro zipper apart and
step out of speckled pants.

she twitches in my arm.
her back arches. she squirms
to burrow her mouth into my
still shirt-encased chest.
she pitches her head back, with a grunt.

dog's ears perk into a couple
of triangles, and he scoots under the bed.
he too doubts i'll be fast enough.

plop onto the bed. i'm on my side, she's on her back,
lips pursed, cheeks twitching. her head lurches backward.
maybe six seconds left before her writhing and groaning
will shatter into screams.

i roll my tight tanktop above my breasts.
no time to take it off. her neck is getting red.
her arms make a football goalpost and her hands ball into
fists. she snorts. i move closer, and waste half a second
wondering whether there's time to look for the t.v. remote,
but she whips her fist toward her mouth, and i tuck in beside her.
my head on a pillow, my palms against her cushy back, i shove her closer.

her round head bobs spastically,
her face crashes into my chest and i feel
her groping lips fumble and then she pulls
my nipple into her mouth.

i rub the soft tufts of hair on her head in circles.

she sucks. her body loses its rigidity.

so does mine.

II.
my husband sleeps in his territory.
it's almost another room
on the other side of the king bed.

i want to wake him up.
he should know what's going on.
he should see the way her mouth fits
perfectly around my nipple and sucks
with exactly the right pressure.

she's a genius. her dad should know.
who cares if it's past one in the morning.
i reach over to poke at him with my right foot
but i can't quite reach. i toss a pillow toward him,
but it sails over his back onto the floor next to the bed.
he stirs but doesn't wake. i grope for something else to lob
his way, but the only thing i find is an old copy of People magazine
wedged into the crack between the bed and the wall. it slips down
all the way underneath and the dog darts out with a yelp

i rest my head on the pillow again.
oh well, probably wouldn't be worth it anyway.
he'd wake, roll over, look at me, look at her and say,
"yeah, genius . . . amazing . . . see you in the morning."

just like he did last night.

she peeks at me from the corner
of her upturned eye,
single iris staring into my face
through the darkness.
her eyes crinkle,
she doesn't want to let go
to erupt into a full smile.
but i do. and now she
can't stop herself. her lips
disengage. she smiles a mouth
full of nipple and a single drop of
milk rolls down her chin and drips on
the sheet. i laugh. she squawks and
kicks the covers from her feet.
i lean over to kiss her cheek,
but she moves away and her gums grab my
nose. she smiles and shakes her open mouth
back and forth, finding my breast again

until we're one person again
for tonight,

almost.


Rachel Iverson, former poetry editor of Literary Mama, teaches Humanities at a private school in Manhattan. In 2009, she will complete an M.F.A. in fiction from Sarah Lawrence College. She has taught writing workshops in New York and Los Angeles, and she has studied writing at the Iowa Writers’ Workshop. Her writing has appeared in anthologies, print journals and online magazines, including Literary Mama: Reading for the Maternally Inclined, The Berkeley Fiction Review, Onthebus, dotmoms, and The Philosophical Mother, among others. She and her husband have a son and a daughter and are looking forward to adding a third child to their family through adoption in the fall of 2009.


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