Poems & Essays

19 Aug

Fingernails

Toddlers to Teens One Response

When I was young
I bemoaned ever having long nails
and I bit them and chewed them
and picked them through the stress
of each new boyfriend becoming old and 
every old boyfriend wanting 
to switch to something new.
And when I thought I needed them to be
long and strong
to mount a good offense or a strong defense
they remained flimsy and bent
they broke and peeled
leaving me feeling defenseless and vulnerable.
But as I have aged they have changed.
Gotten harder, more layered,
more prone to growing
unable to be broken or bitten
requiring tools and weaponry 
to tame them down to acceptable levels.
And I remember looking at my mother’s hands
when I was young
and admiring her long, strong, beautiful nails.
My mother who fought with me 
when I brought home a new boyfriend 
she knew would become an old boyfriend
after he gouged out a piece of my heart.
My mother who fearlessly 
and sometimes ruthlessly protected me
from all things,
myself included,
at the time when I was still bone soup,
growing and not yet hardened off
like a young apple tree before it can bear fruit
spine malleable and tilted with
active growth plates
flexible and changing.
And I look at my own daughters 
growing into the soil,
putting down tentative roots 
and sending out feelers
beyond the safety of my limbs
like small birds in a treed nest
setting themselves to take flight 
and I see their soft, small nails
absolutely no good for defense 
and I think maybe it is nature’s way
of passing down safety messages
down through generations the way crows 
will scold and caw
to warn others of danger.
And I see how my talons have grown 
in exactly the right way
to make sure my daughters will fledge
and grow and survive
until they grow the talons they need
to protect their own
precious young.

Alison D. Hauch is an educator and mother of twin daughters who studied English Literature and Dance at Western University. In her spare time she loves to read, practice yoga and bake fattening food. She writes about the everyday experiences of being a woman and a mother and how these experiences have changed over time.

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19 Aug

Abdomen

Babyhood No Response

My abdomen used to be perfect
an expanse of skin marred by nothing
but the cup of my navel
like a goblet in golden sand, 
ready to be filled with any heady liquid I chose.
Taut as a drum covered in velvet
with my hipbones rising upward
like two perfect dorsal fins
cutting across the sea of my skin
leaving not even a ripple behind in their wake.
But now my abdomen has changed 
no longer a pristine field covered in untouched snow.
Instead the footprints and tread marks of my life
trudge across its surface
sinking into skin that has grown soft and more pliable
with each new child and passing year.
It has a patterning of purple, red and white scars
like veins of quartz through a rock face
starting under the canopy of my ribs
where they opened me up 
and removed my bile bag.
Moving down into my navel, 
now a broken wine glass 
lovingly pieced back together
from when they sent a camera in to explore
what I looked like from the inside out
because some endometrial cells 
didn’t want to call my uterus home.
Finishing at the lowest point possible
where they made a cut to lift out 
two new bodies built in the pouch 
I keep hidden under my belly flesh
like the secret pocket on the inside of a jacket.
A scar that acknowledges original sin
on my original skin.
and runs perpendicular to 
my shark bite hipbones
no longer visible 
but still circling under the surface.
It has changed, this centre of my body
because everything leaves a mark.

Alison D. Hauch is an educator and mother of twin daughters who studied English Literature and Dance at Western University. In her spare time she loves to read, practice yoga and bake fattening food. She writes about the everyday experiences of being a woman and a mother and how these experiences have changed over time.

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19 Aug

Push Me!

Toddlers to Teens 3 Responses

“You responded to my text:
it is time tho.” ~Eric Roller

You graduated preschool yesterday. Today is the first day of summer break and we are together all day. I am anxious about the loss of my writing time. My quiet time. My me time.

“Mommy, push me!” you yell from the swing. 

I huff. From the bench I tell you to pump your legs.

“No, mommy! Push me!”

I clench. I have to-dos to think through. And if we are going to survive this whole summer together, you need to learn the art of independent play.

“Mommy!”

Your voice rides the fuse from your short vocal cords to my brain and ignites a poem packed there—it is time tho—about that grammarless, thoughtless message we all get from our children one day before we are ready.

it is time tho, you will tell me at a quarter of and you will let go of me like the booster of a rocket that has done its job—like:

we couldn’t possibly take you home from the NICU—it was time tho
I couldn’t possibly stop pumping breast milk—it was time tho
we can’t possibly put you on the school bus this fall—it is time tho

Poetry-sparked, I rise. Oh, the relief when my hand still spreads across your whole tiny back.

“Higher!” you yell from the billowing tulle of your princess dress. Your command is my wish. 

Your eyes and smile widen as I summon my magic. What are parents of small children if not marvelous creatures that can pull fun out of thin air, blow away pain, and send you higher on the swing than you can send yourselves? 

There is midnight to this magic—but not tonight. Thanks be to verse, I will not spend this summer on the bench. I am a giant. And when I push you on the swing, you fly.

Eric Roller’s poem, “it is time tho,” appeared on 16 June 2019 in Mothers Always Write.

Ingrid Anders is a wife, mother, and stepmother residing in Northern Virginia. Her most recent works have appeared in Eunoia Review, Brilliant Flash Fiction, and right here in Mothers Always Write. She hosts the Short Fiction Writing Workshop at the Washington DC Public Library and is a member of the Poets on the Fringe and the Writer’s Center in Bethesda, MD. 

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19 Aug

This is you now

Toddlers to Teens 2 Responses

You wear adolescence like armour:
hair just so,
training-wheel moustache tickling your lip
—curled in perpetual distain—
impossibly long limbs and
clothes giving the illusion of 
effortless care.

I want to smash it crack it open
reveal the gooey baby interior of
the boy whose feet I kissed before he could walk
whose sticky fingers reached for my hand 
while sporting a joyful mashup of
clone trooper mask Hogwart’s robes matching nail polish
and foam sword. 

It’s a phase, I am told by a tottering
pile of self-help books and a playlist
of shiny-faced YouTube psychologists.
You, who leapt up into my arms when I 
least expected it
now stare down at me with doubt and distain 
(if you look at me at all)
and when angered
dig out the deepest parts you know of me 
to hit the hardest.

I wonder where you’ve gone.

But then 
you envelop me in an octopus hug
call me ‘little mama’ while you dance 
just for me, not stopping until 
I’m laughing through tears 
(I am still the audience you most desperately 
want to please)
and I catch glimpses of you
when your eyes seek out mine
during sappy movie moments
because you know what makes me cry
and you wordlessly pass a tissue. 

You fill my heart and break it 
a hundred times a week.

I can’t help but love you forever and fiercely
and can’t wait to meet you again.

Christina Grant is a teacher who finds it easier managing a classroom full of adolescents than the two who live with her. Her writing has appeared in literary magazines such as “Gathering Storm” and “Fiction War” and her YA speculative fiction novel, ‘Being Human’, is available on line and in print. She can be found on twitter @cgrantwriter or on her website: cgrantwriter.com.

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