Literary Mama writing about the many faces of motherhood
After the Diagnosis

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Don’t think about his white blood cells
munching healthy lung tissue, termites

gorging on dry rot. Don’t think about
your grandmother’s oxygen tank

or the pediatric gas mask her genes—
your genes—have fit over his small face.

Don’t think about how he believes
his peak flow monitor is a cool toy

the pulmonologist gave him. Don’t
think about the Statue of Liberty

he sculpted out of yellow modeling clay
then annotated with ballpoint ink: head,

baby growing in belly, vagina, torch.
Don’t let it remind you of the innkeepers

in Ireland who had hung their dead child’s
watercolors on their guestroom walls.

Think instead about the hours he spent
on the beach last weekend, digging

a giant pit in the sand, then pratfalling
into it, over and over, in slow motion.

No. Don’t think about that either.
Not the hole. Not the falling.


Winner of the 2008 Agnes Lynch Starrett Poetry Prize, Cheryl Dumesnil’s books include a collection of poems, In Praise of Falling, and a memoir, Love Song for Baby X: How I Stayed (Almost) Sane on the Rocky Road to Parenthood. She is a regular contributor to VillageQ.com and Huffington Post. She lives in the San Francisco Bay Area with her wife and their two sons.


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