Literary Mama writing about the many faces of motherhood
Bathing Beauty

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I remember you—girl
in the pink-striped suit
with the solid pink ruffle
where your toddler thighs begin,
eyes focused in concentration
as you listen to the words
I bend in half to say. You lean
forward, almost on your toes
planted in the gravelly sand,
tentative smile on your face,
ready to race, toss your
sun-bleached curls and gallop
across retreating waves
on a fog-shrouded beach.
Your first time—mine, the joy of
introduction, mother in a turquoise
T and shapely legs who knows
this moment will pass into other
moments, shaped and worn by water
and wear till you're grown, your dad
who takes the picture, gone,
and I'm a grandma skimming
photos, trembling with the heat
of your time-warped hand
tucked into my greedy fist.


Leslie Smith Townsend is a poet, essayist, and memoirist whose work has appeared in numerous journals and magazines, including the Christian Science Monitor, The Louisville Review, Courier-Journal, and Journeys. She has an MFA in Writing from Spalding University in Louisville, Kentucky where she lives and works as a licensed marriage and family therapist. She is married with four children and six grandkids.


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