Literary Mama writing about the many faces of motherhood

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It’s as if the woman dropped a gold piece
into a jar every night since the night
the girl was born, only to find the jar
filled with small stones. The stones
are smooth; they feel good in her palm.
If she’d been saving one for each day
of the child’s life, she’d be happy
to pour them dry and dusty
into her hands now. But nothing is
what the woman expected. After all
this time on the mountain, the girl
wants to leave. Maybe she’ll lead
the hawk away by its invisible leash
or maybe the bird-shaped shadow
will find another face to darken.
Maybe the boy’s face. Maybe the girl
won’t come back. Who’s to say?
It’s as if the woman whittled the girl’s
tiny likeness from wood, but holding
it later, turning it over in her hands,
sees angles she didn’t cut, the child’s
sweet face still sweet but contorted
in ways the woman didn’t twist it.

Maggie Smith is the author of Lamp of the Body, Nesting Dolls, and The List of Dangers. Her poems have appeared in The Southern Review, The Paris Review, The Iowa Review, and elsewhere. The recipient of fellowships from the NEA, the Ohio Arts Council, and the Virginia Center for the Creative Arts, Smith lives in Bexley, Ohio, with her husband, four-year-old daughter, and infant son. You can find her online at

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