Literary Mama writing about the many faces of motherhood
How to Be Alone

3 comments

Night-time is for sleeping, we'd chant
To set the clock, to relax her fisted hold
On the crib bars, the minute terry-bound feet
Testing their new purchase on the mattress.
We were teaching independence, self-soothing,
How to be alone. If that fails, the book
Advised, There is no more today, a phrase
So thick with terror, it took hold immediately.
Baby slips off the ledge and we stand by.
She sank into the dark without a cry.


Julie Bruck is a Montreal-born, San Francisco-based poet and teacher. Her books include The Woman Downstairs (1993), The End of Travel (1999), and a newly completed manuscript, Monkey Ranch. Recent work has appeared in The New Yorker, Ploughshares, and The Malahat Review, and more new poems are forthcoming in The New Yorker and The Walrus. Julie and her husband, writer Lewis Buzbee, have an 11-year-old daughter.


More from



Love this. The ending made me...gasp, want to cry...it gets you in the gut.
Heart-rending. So powerful and so brief.
No baby would want this earth if they knew they would be left to sleep the dark coldness of a lonely sleep. Babies are born to sleep in the warmth of a mother's (or a father's) loving chest.
Comments are now closed for this piece.