Literary Mama writing about the many faces of motherhood
Given

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After a cold and beautiful hike through icy dunes,
my daughter shivers off to take a bath. Her muscles ache, she says.

Her husband, this gawky, sweet appendage to our lives,
chats with me in the family room,

replaces an ornament fallen from the tree,
pokes at the fireplace, slouches away.

I hear him knock once on the bathroom door,
then open it immediately and step inside.

Muffled voices filter through, but I can't hear the words.
Then, her laugh, quiet and relaxed.

I picture him leaning against the sink,
recounting some awkward in-law moment or sharing a joke.

And her, reclined, uninhibited, warm.
His eyes hold her now,

hold the gentle folds of skin, the freckles,
the scar from that skateboard phase.

He has privileges that I have long since lost,
and I know that is fair.

Persephone, below, finds joy --
no matter what we write from the surface.

I give her away again and again.


Jessica L. Walsh is the mother of Stella Simone, born March 2007. She is a poet and assistant professor of English at Harper College in suburban Chicago. She strayed into literary criticism for a time during graduate studies but has returned to her roots as a poet, prompted in part by her efforts to unravel the many knots and tangles of motherhood through a creative medium. She wrote “Given” as she began to better understand the journey her own mother had taken over the years. Her poem “Ataraxis” won the 2007 Abbie M. Copps Poetry Award and will be published in Garfield Lake Review. Her writing has appeared or is forthcoming in artisan: a journal of craft, The Listening Eye, Driftwood, the Furnace Review, Blood and Fire Review, Mobius, and The New Press Literary Quarterly.


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