Because they don’t do the important things, the things Life depends on, like cooking dinner or emptying the dishwasher. They won’t fold clothes or fill the car with gas or sit at a desk eight hours a day, listening to the boss bark. But then I read Moira Egan’s Hot Flash Sonnets as I wait for the doctor. Suddenly, a chuckle is enough to face diagnosis. I wrap words around my body like a cast, setting what’s broken so it can heal. At night, Rae Hoffman Jager stands by me as I soothe my son, rocking away the croup that seeps through bronchi like an invasive moon through metal blinds. In this world, poems are like women—unseen, the work is often unpraised, done in dark hours without witness, necessary as sleep, as blood, as air.
Marissa Glover teaches and writes in Florida, where she is co-editor of Orange Blossom Review and a senior editor at The Lascaux Review. Marissa’s work has been published in Rust + Moth, Sweet, First Things, War, Literature & the Arts, and SWWIM Every Day, among other journals. Follow her on Twitter @_MarissaGlover_.
These are the words for hysterectomy The words for no more children These are the words written on her body These are the words that are her body now
Dorsal lithotomy position Endotracheal anesthesia 12-mm infraumbilical incision Trendelenburg position Salpingectomy Colpotomy
They incise her vagina remove her fallopian tubes leave her ovaries, a small gift while she breathes evenly None of this is a coincidence she has thought about this has let go the histrionics came with childbirth the chaos first of lack of sleep, of breastfeeding then of ear infections, pediatrician appointments, rushing to daycare before and after work the guilt the pressure Do you remember what it was like? No, she’s made her peace as they snip and grind and grate and stitch she radiates calm no histrionics now
The patient tolerated the procedure well and was transferred to the recovery room in stable condition
Carolyne Van Der Meer lives and writes in Montreal, Canada. She has two published books, Motherlode: A Mosaic of Dutch Wartime Experience (Wilfrid Laurier University Press, 2014) and Journeywoman (Inanna, 2017). A collection of poetry called Sensorial is forthcoming from Inanna in 2021. Her poetry and prose have been published internationally.
There’s a box to my left that looks like pool noodles and cage fighting made a baby— it’s the box where my children play.
Slick, hideous structures hold opportunities for make believe and thieving on the high seas.
Endless potential rests in four corners like buried treasure to be plundered with a mischievous grin.
They’re irresistible, my children, and insatiable (snack time already?) churning engines of fun and love and needs for floors that bounce and walls that heave.
Kelsi Folsom is a Texas-born poet and prose writer whose work is published in The Caribbean Writer, West Texas Literary Review, Motherly, Voice of Eve, Women Who Live on Rocks, and elsewhere. In addition to contributing regularly to Red Tent Living Magazine, she is the author of poetry chapbook Words the Dirt Meant to Share (Desert Willow Press, 2018) and Buried in the Margins, her first full length collection of poetry forthcoming with Finishing Line Press in 2020. She enjoys traveling with her husband and three kids, scouring estate sales, and occasionally putting her B.M. in Voice Performance to good use. Follow her writing and activities on Instagram @kelsifolsom.
I swam in the Gulf of Thailand with you. I held you, small as a kumquat, in my own dark, small sea. We listened to the clipped Parisian chatter as we bobbed up and down, weightless. I felt small, furtive fish brush against my legs, a shudder moving through me. Perhaps you fluttered those brand-new eyelids or jerked your little arms, feeling me tense. I step more carefully. A stray dog snatches a piece of bread from a Western hand, then skitters away on the beach.
Later you are jostled asleep in the back of a Thai taxi. (Which, my love, is not a taxi at all, but a truck with a rusty, makeshift canopy and two ad hoc benches erected on either side). There is a photo of me somewhere hanging on for dear life, trying to remember this moment even before it passes. And isn’t that like us as humans? Remembering things before they’ve even passed? We pass entire families riding on motor bikes, small, dark lagoons, ladyboys fanning themselves languidly with decorative fans.
I walk to town with my sister, eat duck confit, French onion soup, listen to the waves reach the shore. The crashing is calmer at night, the sea and the sand have resolved something vital after nightfall. Large, bright birds skim the water’s edge for the fishermen’s leavings. The fishing boats are coming in, the nets are being folded, finally, just as the air begins to cool. We walk back after sunset, the air thick with fat, tropical mosquitoes. We both walk and swing our arms wildly as we do, trying to keep them at bay. “Look,” I imagine a squat elderly shop owner chuckling, a crooked finger pointed in our direction, “The Americans are fighting with themselves.”
Back at our beachside hut, we curl into each other. I have already begun to place a protective hand over you. There I give into the fatigue that has set into the very marrow of my bones, and fall into a deep, black, and dreamless sleep. I don’t know if this exhaustion is jet lag, pregnancy, or both, but I give myself fully to it. It is a sleep like practicing becoming a corpse. Outside, the British teenagers are roaring with laughter. The hotel pool is warm as bath water, empty.
This is what I imagine:
You fall asleep too, sometime after I do, entranced and lulled by the sound of my breath, making its way through blood, bone, tissue, organ. You fall asleep exhausted too, growing so rapidly in your starless universe, that expansive ocean.
This is what I know now that I didn’t know then:
Your hair will be red at birth. They will have to cut you out of me. I will shake uncontrollably, racked with convulsions from the medicine in the spinal block. You will be nearly eleven pounds, nearly two feet long, and I will know I have grown a proper Viking. Your father’s shoulders will be hunched as he preens over to look at you, terrified. The first time you open your lungs, your cries will mark a perfect line right down the middle of my life.
Mia Foster is a mother and poet living and working in the midwest. Some of her favorite poets include Kim Addonizio, Eloisa Amezcua, and Warsan Shire.