Literary Mama writing about the many faces of motherhood
Normalize

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When my foster daughter writes backward the letter b or d,
her head and face inflate,
a plum bruise or butterfly wing opening
over her cinched eyes.
Tears fly like a sprinkler, wild as her arms,
and her feet stamp as if to put a hole in the floor
or find a trap door to fall through and disappear.
To normalize, she hides in noise and color,
writing songs about her life, drafting a self-portrait,
crayon eyes flecked brown and green.
From clay she molds tiny cups and pinch pots,
a butterfly and an itsy figurine.
The glazed hair is daffodil yellow,
the dress dark blue.

After it’s fired in the kiln,
she brings home the figurine,
rubs the smooth shine under her thumbs
and stares down at it when she says,
“I was going to give this to my brother.
But he’s always going to know me. You won’t.
So I’m going to give it to you so you won’t forget me.”
She thrusts the figurine in her hands
outward, in offering.
I accept it and say, “Honey, I love you so much,
there’s no way I could forget you.
Do you know that?”
She looks up, her hazel eyes open
wide with wonder and hope.


Emily Dagostino’s work has recently appeared in University of Chicago Magazine, Catholic Digest, Hospital Drive, and Brain, Child Magazine. She is a licensed foster parent in Illinois, a biological mom to a 20-month-old, and is expecting her second biological child in July 2014. She writes about life, motherhood, foster care, and more at emilydagostino.com.


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