Literary Mama writing about the many faces of motherhood
Two poems

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Marie Teaches Me to Play Dolls

You have to snap off their heads

to put on their clothes

because their heads are so big.
It’s called a sassy braid

if it’s over your shoulder.

Black is the sassiest hair color.

She’s sassy because she’s wearing eye shadow.

And purple pants, seriously? And that thing

around her neck? That shirt is tiny.
They’re sisters, did you know that?

All the girls are sisters except the mom.

She’s a mom.

She doesn’t get clothes.
Do you want this camera? Just tuck it

onto her hand, take a picture.

Do happy face, do sad face, do silly face.

I’m this one and this one.

I’m the faces they make.

Do farty face. You can see

their underwear for that one.
Let’s go,

we’re going shopping. We’re going

to need new clothes for the future.




200 Small Apartment Ideas

Take pride in the quality of wrapping paper, pert bows,

gift bags in neat rows with mouths like hungry birds.
Ebony wood provides comfort

and balances an interior with great presence of glass.
Use up the celery and the last of the lemon,

so all the fridge will be clean white space and cake. The color white
is the protagonist of the interior.

The space under the bed was used to install a washing machine.
Your daughter is another year older; she slips through time

like sugar through the sieve. The removal of walls allows daylight
to penetrate into the spaces. She will pretend to marry;

she will pretend to hold a bundle of want against her chest.
This combination results in a simple and feminine aesthetic.

With compassion, you teach her to wish
only for the conditions that seem likely to come true.

Thanks to this installation, the wall seems
to move and modify the boundaries of the room.

Melissa Sewell lives in Topeka, Kansas, with the poet Timothy Volpert and their daughter. Her poems have appeared in Kansas City Voices; Yes, Poetry; and Flint Hills Review.  She blogs for XYZ magazine.


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