Literary Mama writing about the many faces of motherhood
Today, She Arrived

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For Corinne and Kaley

I held a just-hours-old infant today
And welcomed her to the world

After I washed my hands of the clay dirt resting in my lifeline
Dirt stuck to my palm from rocks stolen off a dirt road
piled into the back of my truck
yanked for my own yard

When I thought the mother,
unexpectedly radiant with hair down,
wasn't looking,
I kissed the baby's temple
I couldn't help it.

She is just right
Like a misty garden
With lily pads and lissome ferns
A million shades of green

Nothing like my torn-up boots
And dried mud trail tracked across the hospital

Dark brown hair scooted out under her knitted cap
Long eyelashes fluttered when the camera flashed
Her sucked-in lip, na�ve
Her reddish clear cheeks, free of worldy influence
Her hands untouched by earth

When will she lick her first blade of grass?
When will her eyes follow her first floating cloud?

She made me want to be cleaner
Prettier, more feminine
She made me want to start over
Untainted

She hadn't made any mistakes yet, errors, faux pas
She hasn't eaten too much, spent too much
Embarrassed herself.

I called her a little shrimp
Before she was born
But when I met her bundled smallness
I saw a beautiful quiet girl, a woman with truthfulness and dexterous hands
A gentle fascinating soul
I'm sure will love animals and plants
And want to keep the earth as clean and lovely as she.

Or maybe I just want
Maybe I just want a soul to be born and save us
A lot to ask from six pound three ounces

But unlike me, who pilfered from the planet today,
I think she's liable to spread kindness and beauty
Since she already accomplished such
Her very first afternoon


Stefanie Freele is the author of the short story collection Feeding Strays (Lost Horse Press), a finalist in the John Gardner Binghamton University Fiction Award and the Book of the Year Award. She recently won the Glimmer Train Fiction Open. Her published and forthcoming fiction can be found in Glimmer Train, American Literary Review, McSweeney�s Internet Tendency, Westview, Frigg, Boston Literary Review, Permafrost, and Hobart Online. Stefanie is the fiction editor for the Los Angeles Review. Stefanie’s second collection, While Surrounded by Water, will be published by Press 53 in 2012.


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