Literary Mama writing about the many faces of motherhood
What You Lose If You Use Water as a Preservative

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The first lullaby in The Singing Mother's Handbook
is "Can the Stars Be Edible?" Open your hymnal
and weep. Croon, lark, cantillate. Milk seeps, leaks,
smudges edges you thought skin had bound--
if loss is potable, why not stars? There are soups
of bird's nests, of rock lichens.
People sup on bee larvae, on sea urchin eggs--
the same people who wipe the dribble of clay
off a pregnant woman's lips and lead her away
from the river's loamy banks. "But I want,"
she protests, "to give my baby . . ." She falters. "Spit,"
she is told and handed the songbook open to
"How to Hold an Architecture of Rain."
She flips the pages randomly past
"The Map of Sacred Things Just Out of Reach"
and "Ten Ways All Lullabies are Forfeitures
are Good Practice." She sighs.
"But there are no words to these songs. What use
is this handbook?" No use. No words.
Not for your resistance nor the tender way
it will be crushed.


Jessica Goodfellow lives in Kobe, Japan, with her husband and two young sons. Her chapbook, A Pilgrim’s Guide to Chaos in the Heartland, was published last year. Her work has been featured in Best New Poets 2006, on Garrison Keillor’s NPR show The Writer’s Almanac, and on the web site Verse Daily, as well as in many journals.


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