Literary Mama writing about the many faces of motherhood
The Messiah Could Have Gotten Listeria

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"Eating for two?" – What to Expect When You're Expecting

Mary, did they wag their fingers no at unpasteurized milk?
Did you have to count your protein for too little
and your tuna for too much,
fretting mercury might metalize
the haloed brain of the divine?

You had no sonic wand
snooping the precise size
of the incarnate's kidneys,
no weight-gain tsk tsks or glucose tests

but you had, of course, the risk of infections.

How did you carry the burden, Mary,
the earthquake of history, like a big bang
contained in the squash-sized babe?

When you watched Joseph's tired gait ahead,
did you hear in your head
the warning: your thoughts could do your child harm?
You could sing the wrong songs? You could love
the God
you carried incorrectly? You could fuck this up?

Mary, all I've got inside me is another human,
and still, men give up their seats,
women sing odes to my stomach,

and crazies blow up buildings
all because they think the baby in my belly
weighs the world.
(The doctor thinks I weigh too much.)

Mary how did you handle the pressure, carrying
not the weight of the world
but the weight of its maker?

Did you just place your hand on your belly,
take a breath like a breeze, and trust
that you were enough,
that this world and all the things in it
would not kill him?


Heather Lanier is the author of the nonfiction book, Teaching in the Terrordome, along with two award-winning poetry chapbooks. Her TED talk about the stories we tell ourselves has been viewed over a million times. Her book about raising a daughter with a rare chromosomal syndrome is forthcoming from Penguin Press.


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