Poems & Essays

11 May

Nothing New

General/Column One Response

We buy our first car when I’m five months gone
an ill-used VW that years later rusts through

then eight months huge and awkward I help paint
the dingy walls in our one-room basement flat

three babies sleep in the old crib before you
and sit in the high chair with its peeling decal

a yard-sale cabinet makes do as changing
table—there will be nothing new but you

I time my contractions by the watch I buy
before you’re born, counting on a life to come

and there you are, your broad shoulders tearing
your way out, your dark eyes deep with purpose

ready to strike out on your own no matter
what, ready to be mine and never mine
Sally Zakariya’s poems have appeared in Broadkill Review, Boston Literary Magazine, Emerge, Third Wednesday, Evening Street Review, Theodate, and elsewhere and have won prizes from the Poetry Society of Virginia and the Virginia Writers Club. She has published two poetry collections, Insectomania (2013) and Arithmetic and other verses (2011), and blogs at www.ButDoesItRhyme.com.

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11 May

Stage Mother

General/Column No Response

Her limbs are penciled lines
on translucent paper.

They lift and fall like
grasshopper wings.

She bows her arms like
the remnants of a whisper,

and I am left holding
the breeze off the spin.


Christine Nichols is the mother of three amazing daughters. She lives in Oklahoma. She has works forthcoming or previously published in Red River Review, Portmanteau, Strong Verse, Muddy River, and Vox Poetica.


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11 May


General/Column No Response

Are you real, darling?

I study those turquoise pools of curiosity for verification
as they twinkle.
I smell your nascent toes
as you suckle my breasts.
Our breath rhymes as we lay spooned.

When our lips meet, we brighten.

All of this is evidence of you
being real

Swaddled in health.

But how do I know for sure?

Trauma harangued assuredness,
banged it up, bruised it.
Nothing is for certain, it seems.

Loving you so fully
reverberations of loss.

Who was the girl who came before,
but isn’t?
If she was,
you wouldn’t be,

My Miscarriage
turned me upside down,
though it all looks right-side up
from the outside.

Anxiety visits
previously a stranger
unwanted alarm bell
a reminder
not to take life or love for granted.

I yearn for pre-miscarriage me.
Fresh faced, naïve maybe
bucolic burgeoning belly
without reserve
or preoccupation.

Grief grips.

Fifteen months should prove your staying power.
my mind
to stormy places.

The trauma of this second trimester loss
lives in me
harnessed me, harasses me
will be here
is me.

Wishing won’t yield change.
I’ll settle on hybridity, even
Re-find. Refined.

Her mommy
is me
this me
for now, for always.

Dr. Jessica Zucker is a psychologist and writer based in Los Angeles. She has contributed to The New York Times, The Washington Post, BuzzFeed, among others. You can find her at www.drjessicazucker.com and on Twitter @DrZucker.


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11 May

Hide and Seek

General/Column 2 Responses

She knew how to hide from me, but she was too young to realize I could hear her even though I couldn’t see her. The crinkling of the cellophane led me to her secret spot. She was crouching behind the TV cabinet, and I could tell by her profile that she had something in her mouth. A green and red wrapper for a piece of strawberry candy from her Halloween stash was crumpled up in her tiny fist. She was shocked to see me, and her reaction was to spit it out, hoping to undo what was already done. But, it was too late. She was aware of the rules regarding how much candy she could have each day. It was her desire for a sweet treat that was driving her decisions, not any moral obligation to me.

My heart dropped as the translucent pink candy hit the hardwood floor. In that moment I knew this was a turning point in our relationship.

“I’m sorry,” she mumbled as she shifted her gaze away from mine.

I moved in closer, scooped her up and hugged her tight. This was the first time she had tried to hide from me, but it wouldn’t be the last. And, it wouldn’t be the last time I would try to find her.

Now, almost ten years later, our games of hide-and-seek are more complicated. They involve monitoring the websites she visits and following her Tumblr posts. They also involve deeper matters of the heart and soul—her longings, fears and frustrations.

My eyes and ears no longer adequate, I must employ my heart in order to find hers. There’s a different kind of energy involved. It’s the work of waiting and being patient and present. I don’t dare bang on her door, demanding her to connect with me. But, sometimes in those moments, instead of having to search for her, she’ll crack open the door and reach for me.


Charlotte Donlon lives in Birmingham, Alabama with her husband and their two children. She blogs at charlottedonlon.com and explore ideas related to faith and waiting at gainingwait.com. You can reach her @charlottedonlon.

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