Literary Mama writing about the many faces of motherhood
Three Poems

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Watching My Daughter Climb Trees

Dizzy humid, punctured and wet
grown into my body then from it.
But the self returns, returns again
changed like exploded light-bulbs
or rosebush after tornado. A body
is given to give: built to hold
and hurt, to birth, bath and bundle
the keepings of a quiet life
of sparrows singing on the sill
and mowers cutting through deep
grass in the season of birds
crushed featherless on the back
stoop and for this I am
thankful. Yes, all this.

Hanging Sheets with my Daughter

So much dew this morning
cut grass matted between our toes
and clumped on sandal bottoms
the daylilies drooping wet, the cat also
from her tromp into the weed bed.
Our lungs know damp and heavy air;
we lug our bodies through it, haul
ourselves into summer, bug-bitten,
and ready, picked out of pastoral sleep
nodding into a new day, where quick
as a claw in the leg of all that is held
passes too.

“I’m not allowed to talk at nap time, but I do. I talk to my dolly.”

Across the green, inside the day care
my daughter lays on a blue cot
whispering to her doll. Urging
her baby, her feet to be still.
She is unable, in the low-lit room
full of small shifting bodies,
smell of tempura paint
and pee, to sleep. She is not calmed
by classical music. She continues
her breathy narrative
learning the secret
of the bare branches she traces
with her dolls’ dirty plastic hands
over the school’s white blinds—to be confined
is not to conform, you can still
hear the sap run.

Shana Youngdahl’s full-length collection History, Advice and Other Half-Truths was published in 2012 by Stephen F. Austin State University Press. She is also the author of three chapbooks, most recently Winter/Windows from Miel Books (2013). Shana teaches writing at The University of Maine Farmington, where she also co-directs the Longfellow Young Writers’ Workshop. She has two daughters, a husband and one cat. Visit her online at

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