Literary Mama writing about the many faces of motherhood

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Because you stayed silent you took
the newborn child, downy and slick,
soaked with her mother's rage,
howling with your daughter's grief,
you took her as yours and imagined
that you bore down, veins engorged purple,
scarlet carnations blossoming from your
capillaries and sweat-pools streaming
from your taut temples and you
believed that you bore her yourself,
birthed your own granddaughter,
how does that even make sense, but
you made sense of it rather than bear
the terrible knowing of your silence
while he sinned her dreams away,
not even a sin you can name but
the unthinkable allowing of things
to unfold, and your teenage daughter
barely able to bear the nine months
of swelling silence, of a scarlet
secret hiding in the hush that
begins and ends with a bloody gush,
growing even as her belly grew
a life she felt was a death and
you were impotent with silence,
feeble in the face of this history–
a baby having a baby having
a baby having a baby and so
the burden of birth is passed
from grandmother to mother to
daughter to grandmother and so
because you stayed silent
she called you Grandmommy,
a one-person-all-mixed-up.

Deborah Kahan Kolb was born and raised in Brooklyn, NY and currently lives in the Bronx. Much of her poetry reflects the unique experiences and challenges of growing up in, and ultimately leaving, the insular world of Hasidic Judaism. Deborah earned her bachelor of arts and master of arts degrees in English/Creative Writing from CUNY Queens College, where she served as editor of the Queens College Journal of Jewish Studies and was the recipient of the James E. Tobin Poetry Award, the Lois Hughson Essay Prize, and the Essay Prize in Holocaust/Genocide Studies. Her work has appeared in Poetica, Voices Israel, Veils, Halos & Shackles, New Verse News, 3Elements Review, Poets Reading the News, Tuck, Rise Up Review, Writers Resist, and Paddock Review, and has been selected as a finalist for the Anna Davidson Rosenberg Poetry Award.

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