Literary Mama writing about the many faces of motherhood
She Rote

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9/7/95

If i Werhe
Presudint of the Wrold ...
I would call out
School! and forc
PePleh to give me
Muny. and i Wolde Biy
a manchcin with it. and 100005
dogs.

Seven years after
they sawed her out
of me she keeps a diary.

She wants it to begin
with her conception.

How did I think her up?

As if, like wisdom, the housefly's daughter,
she sprang from my head.

Seven years after I lay in couvade,
like a husband feigning labor,
the doctors in their green masks, rubber
gloves rummaged through my bottom drawer,
burglars to find her out,
she writes
in her blue notebook, traces
the crescent cut
above my pudendum, asks,

"Is this the window I climbed out?"

9/26/95

1. I can not Moan
whan the teacher
calls the necst
thiem. I wont tallk
2. Whan ahter pepell
are tallking.

Up to no good
& all of a sudden
somebody's looking. You
would never sleep. Even
as the others slept
in their plastic bassinets, your eyes,
an hour old, snatched
at every object in the room,
fierce & furious
you could not move.

Happy, plump huntress
when you learned to walk, you
captured every creature too
slow to outrun you,
littered the house with cellophane wings,
flat ants, decapitated caterpillars.

Now the phone. I stumble
from my bed into the kitchen.
Your teacher has some issues. Her
needle voice cradled in my ear, I find
the coffee can on the counter, scoop
my spoon into
a boiling knot of copper
flesh & corruscating legs:
one centillion centipedes.

After me, what vessel
could contain you?

9/28/95

I wise i cold
climd mowntins.

She sits up in the treetop cat
for the hook & ladder love
her own speed up the
blur of leaves & shriek of
blue jay's dive
into the sky's thin
water never
thought how she'd get
down.

Who
is she what
is she where
did she come from when
did they switch her why
is she not me how
can this child be
mine?

10/5/95

If i cold live

Rightsideup you were upsidedown
for the job of being born,
& so the doctor tried to turn
you in me.
Spread me on a nun-white table,
ran a wire up my vagina
to chart the landscape of your heart
on a television screen.

I was a yeasty mound of dough.
The doctor's big hands kneaded me.
But with each push & pull your
hilly heartbeat flattened
on the screen.
Until your father, blanched as flour,
pinned the doctor's wrists. "No more,"
he said. "She is too stubborn. She's . . ."

10/13/95

i think i wold Be
nete if pepel
cold cuom Back
from the dade.

Your brother died before he was born.

(The leaves are opposite, ovate
with entire margins.)

A fish pulled back before he swam down time.

(The flowers are borne in pairs
on solitary axillary peduncles.)

Spoke on the road, the car overturned, the night
before he came.

(The flowers are pubescent without.)

A father & brothers, a mother before me died.

(The berries are black
or dark purple.)

Showed you how to draw the pistil
from the yellow honeysuckle,
tip the crystal drop of syrup
-- godfood -- onto your mortal tongue.

(The main method of long-distance dispersal . . .
is by birds eating the fruits.)

Trick he picked up before this life.

10/14/95

i still
dont now
if a gost is rerl
But if thay are
i want to see one

They flutter inside
your crowded limbs,
too many & too shy to be seen,
a tease of feathers like spring warblers
in a new-leafed tree.

Your great grandmother,
her cracked rubber
dolls wide asleep
in their box in the cellar,
scrubbing her shed nylons
on a washboard in
a tub of Kansas rain.

She turned the crank on the Grafanola
so we could dance --
my arms circling her bird hips,
my ear pressed to the nest of her lap --
to the tootle of dead orchestras
in the black water shadows
under the stairs.

Her daughter, your grandmother, too,
too lost in the dream of herself to see you,
just as now you cannot see her
as she looks back at you from your mirror.

The closest you have ever come:
The first time you saw yourself
you saw another baby there.

10/16/95

today Oferser
Kelly vistied
he tallked
abowt safty hear are
some ruls we made . ..
1. aweys ware a
seat belt. 2. Ware a Bike helment. 3. Show
rusphc to the flag.
4. positive attention
5. citizenship to ... Hartford. C.T.
and BugBee school and united --
States. 6. ResPect Pedestrians.

Animals must be tamed to be
good citizens. Creatures such as she
-- wild, unarmed --
must be domesticated.

She cannot be allowed to be
the crow struts outside my window,
a black cut-out, construction paper silhouette, hole
of night, an arrogant puncture.

She cannot be allowed to wander,
-- nude, black --
plucking grubs from under
the bare bone winter trees.

She must be small & come to hand,
light upon my finger,
take
from my palm the proffered seed.

I wrap her like a birthday present, send
her off
on a yellow bus,
respect pedestrians.

10/17/95

1. lisin to the tether.
2. be Good to the
Subsusteht 3. ruhsppct
Others. 4 do Your nethiste
Work. 5 no tahking
in line. 6. Kwi it whal
waerking. 7. Shar
8. rusphekt other
claisis. 9. don't
tahk back to the
tether. 10.

You go
through the motions,
recite by rote, never
meaning a word, quick
to change the subject when
you're caught:

"You ever notice how
dogs have got no chins?"

Listen to the tether.
(meaning a word)

Wit your wing, the thing
to get you out
of hand
& back
into
the
b
u
s
h.

10/29/95

My Mind
is epty that's
Wiy i end it hear.

Ten years after
your last entry we
stand before the stereo.

"Let's dance, Mama," you say.

You take me in your arms & rest
your chin on top of my head.

"How did you get so little?" you tease.

I press my ear against your breast,
listen to your heart the way
you, the frowning doctor once,
would study my heart's beat.

But now we dance, & you,
who would stand on my feet to follow,
lead.

We dance to Charlie Parker
playing a plastic alto.

Bird runs the changes on
After You've Gone.

Bird named it
(as in That's all) She Rote


Suzume Shi, the 53-year-old mother of a 17-year-old daughter and a 15-year-old son, lives in New London, Connecticut. She has been writing all her life, but only in the past year has found the courage to submit her poetry for publication. She has poems forthcoming in Feminist Studies and Poetry Harbor (formerly Poetry Motel).


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