Literary Mama writing about the many faces of motherhood
Daughter

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Almost laughter, dagger, slaughter.
Dough proofing in the womb like unspoken utterance
on uncertain tongue
aught to, doubt her, after

All that came before you disappears like the meaning of a word
after staring at it for too long

No morphemes to take you apart and put you back
together.

You glide and shimmer
galaxies
removed from sense or science

Everything about you surprises,
like discovering the hump of a camel
stores fat and not
water

Regardless, I invoke you
in the desert
of this winter
where lips crack
and bleed like tomatoes
left too long
on the vine

Everyone thinks it's me
keeping you alive

(vitamins, gallons of water,
haphazard altars, sleep sleep sleep)

but it's the other way around
No one needs to know

And when I bend over
my breasts suddenly
swing against my ribs
like sand shifting across sand
I invoke you, Daughter, my first permanent thing
Daughter, my promise ring

Pouring damp soil into my shallow graves
nothing's dying here

despite the cicatrice of dusk at 5 PM
despite the blurry greed to empty myself

you grow

a golden weed, the kind
that's so clearly a flower

Daughter, my daughter

(flash flood, ambrosia, chalice of rainwater)

I twist and lift and find you resting in me,
my granddaughter a spell
in your newly formed belly, placental current
incandescent,
electric, pulsing forward
irrepressibly female

Me, the big bright nesting doll


Julia C. Alter is living, writing, and raising a toddler in Burlington, Vermont. Her poems can be found in, or are forthcoming from Glass: A Journal of Poetry, CALYX, Rogue Agent and elsewhere. In 2017 she was a finalist for Hunger Mountain’s Ruth Stone Poetry Prize.


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