I was afraid to love my daughter until one night in May the air was warm the windows open – playing in the tub I had smoothed her silky hair full of suds into a mohawk which curled and cued and flopped at the tips like dorsal fins should never and saw the shape of her head not perfectly round but more potato the grin on her cheeks lopsided unknowing of how fast the world turns frightening how memories, stuck turn a good moment sour and I left the slick hair let her feel a cool head wanted to keep the deep, dark pockets under my eyes and turn invisible so that she could have more. More of everything. I forgot my own face and tenderness stopped hurting. I held it flexed jaws gulped grief said it out loud and it wasn’t that heavy not any heavier than her.
Elizabeth Bolton is a doctoral researcher at the University of Toronto where she studies poetic literacy practices. In addition to poetry she writes narrative and experimental works. Most notably, her stories and poetry have appeared in Open Minds Quarterly, Event, NoD, Wayfarer and Dark Ink Magazines, among others.
Rain comes in stages: a downpour for twenty seconds, a syncopated melody, a sprinkling.
Windows blur when drops blow slant with the wind.
Flowers pop in garden beds, dot mud, push aside the weeds.
After the rain, silence steeps its own special brew that never exists in bustling coffee shops. It’s warm in the way the still dark acts as a blanket, promising the sun will rise.
Every branch on every backyard tree hushes, halts swaying and creaking, knowing the only sound allowed is birdsong.
The leaves breathe bright and tulips splay their petals, opening until they fall back upon themselves, exhausted. Soon all the spring flowers will say their goodbyes.
Standing at the kitchen window, I see the dog sniffing our fence. Our cat murmurs at the door, asking to go out. Then he sees the dog. My stomach grumbles, but it and the dirty dishes of last night can wait. I want to snuggle my sleepy-headed boy on the couch, Hold onto his time of being five, but he asks, as always, “How many more days until my birthday?” We consult the calendar. Twenty-three. He tries to wiggle a tooth, anxious to lose one, as his best friend already has.
And while we see the sunlight slide across the living room floor, while we wonder about birthdays and teeth and fleeting moments, a text reminds me of our cousins’ hurried trip to Vegas, to the view of high-rises and concrete.
They see the sunrise as they pray for the tiny newborn in the NICU. This family who wants her waits to call her their own. They don’t yet hear her morning cries or see her sleepy eyes at dawn. They don’t hear the sound of her birth mother letting go of tears that fall like rain in the morning’s silence.
Annie Hindman’s work has been published with The Good Mother Project and Mothers Always Write. She volunteered as a Creative Nonfiction reader and editor with The Tishman Review. A wife, mother, writer, and wisher of good will, Annie writes between the lines of her days.
We were in the middle of a game of Charades on the same team, standing side by side, acting out two people riding in a bus on a bumpy road, up, down, up, down, and then I felt her body falling, to her knees, then the floor, silently and softly onto the carpet no noise or exclamation because those are the rules of that game
You never know what letters you will get we all know that’s part of the challenge nobody expected M-O-M and A-L-S to show up like the Scrabble tile shuffle from hell
Can someone just be bluffing please and say remove your sunglasses that was just a practice round, here is a new hand, a new deal
My kids keep asking me to play with them name the game they say they crave the laughter, the competition, the connection with popcorn and sparkly water and chocolate
Grief tells me to ask them to leave me alone I cannot play with you now My heart is in more pieces than your puzzle there and has forgotten any next moves
But a voice I vaguely recognize tells me what to do pick up the dice, make the snacks, pass those pigs, “uno!” who needs bricks? wheat? sheep? And, wait, I think I own that railroad
Same voice reminds that the ticking of the timer doesn’t go on forever sooner or later there’s an empty half of an hourglass or an obnoxious buzz announcing the end of a turn the last round has been played and before you know it, time is up
deal me in and hold onto your hats, little ones, ‘cuz (blowing on dice) “momma needs a new pair of shoes”
Kimberly Braunschneider is a SAHM of five kids ages 6-16. Reading, writing, walking, and being outside with her family give her energy to get through each day.