Literary Mama writing about the many faces of motherhood
Litany at Birth

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"A son would have been the property of the state. You shall be mine; you shall have my undivided care; you will share all my happinesses and you will alleviate my sufferings…"
Marie Antoinette, quoted by Madame Campan
19 December 1778

Tiny thread of me, secret strand
of my selfish heart. Beautiful unspooling.
My new periphery. Shade trees now
in the field of my vision.
My carved-out ache, my hollowing
night-time mouth. My near-
drowning, my buoyant,
buoyant girl, my surfacing,
my breath, my sudden aerial
view. My half-moon evening,
my life-split.
Crooked hem, my sweetest
seamstress, my newly
stitched and rumpled future.
My crown is you. My delicacy,
you, my pink-fingered, dark-haired
morning. My centimetered lengthening,
my fainting and my cool,
waking air. My window thrown open.
My return, second childhood,
my new-angled memory: I remember suddenly
my own cold mother, the longing,
the touching edge
of her voluminous skirts, and I marvel:
Could it be me,
my tiny alarm,
whom you are reaching for?

Jennifer Manthey is an MFA student at Hamline University in St Paul, MN. She has served as Assistant Poetry Editor for Water~Stone Review, and as Associate Editor for Runestone Journal. Her work has appeared or is forthcoming in journals such as Crab Orchard Review, Tinderbox Poetry, Rhino and Rise Up Review.

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