Literary Mama writing about the many faces of motherhood

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That first morning
were it not for the handrail
I'd have burst my incisions, bolting

back from sleep, already sure
that you were gone.
I've had to relearn it

so used to the absence, the never
of you, that joy is fear, is
pink-tinged, is

checking your chest as one does
the stove, the locks.
I banished the ticking clock

to count your breaths
measure them, test the weight
of them, their ins and outs

assess your belly arc
the cohesion of closet light to life.
I nudge your foot

your unripe berry toes
until they twitch,
steal the pink muslin blanket

from your suckling lips.
I embrace the chafe
of ritual. Who needs sleep—

you are still here, and it is as if death
cannot take you
if I don’t close my eyes.

Shannon Connor Winward is the author of the Elgin-award winning chapbook, Undoing Winter. Her writing has earned recognition in the Writers of the Future Contest and the Delaware Division of the Art Individual Artist Fellowship in literature, and appears in Fantasy & Science Fiction Magazine, Analog, Lunch Ticket, Qu, The Pedestal Magazine, Literary Mama, and The Monarch Review, among others. In between writing, parenting, and other madness, Shannon is also a poetry editor for Devilfish Review and founding editor of Riddled with Arrows Literary Journal.

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