Literary Mama writing about the many faces of motherhood
The Ripe Time

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Each month she thinks her nipples
are becoming more tender,
areolas blooming into wild ginger.
Before her is a bed filled with ardor.

Pregnant, not pregnant,
she is the princess without the pea --
a ball stuck in the pinball machine
that tilts like clockwork.

After making love
they lay on their sides silvered with sweat.
She listens for the soft chirp of her own breathing:
it does not reveal why her body operates
like a failed business.

On this night
where marriage is the only safe place
she can go, her husband holds her,
tells her it's just a matter of time.

But all she can think about
is this empty house they can't afford
and the ripe tomatoes growing in backyard containers,
smooth-fleshed and heavy,
falling from their stems.


January G. O’Neil is a writer/editor for the marketing department at Babson College. She lives with her husband and children, Alex (3 years) and Ella (17 months). Her poetry has appeared in Field, Callaloo, Stuff magazine, Can We Have Our Ball Back, and Cave Canem anthologies Nos. II and IV. In addition, she is a fellow with Cave Canem Poets’ group.


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