Cease, Cows

Cease.Cows

Mother's Day Issue 2018

Cease, Cows

2018

Mother’s Day Issue


May 2018

Editor | Susannah Jordan

Authors retain all rights and copyright to their works. No part of this publication

may be reproduced or transmitted in any form or by any means without express

permission from the authors.

Cover Image

Library of Congress, Prints and Photographs Division: George Grantham Bain Collection.

“East Side Babies” [between ca. 1910 and ca. 1915]. Digital image.

Retrieved from https://www.flickr.com/photos/library_of_congress/


Contents

Shark | 11

Abigail Pearson is a 22-year-old queer writer of novels and poetry. She has a black cat that she loves to

cuddle with as she drinks tea and reads Dostoyevsky. Abigail has published poetry collections and

short stories, including her latest work, A Mad Woman’s Voice (https://payhip.com/b/A47O).

She resides in Eugene, OR.

Omen | 12

Kerry Campion de Santiago is an English teacher from Belfast, Northern Ireland. She writes short stories

and poetry and is currently editing her first novel. She lives in Valladolid, Spain with her husband.

Yet Somehow Still There | 14

Claire Peasegood is a full time working mum. She is the Head of English in a secondary school in Barnsley.

She has been teaching English for 14 years and has always loved reading, studying, teaching and, more recently,

writing poetry; particularly when going through a difficult time. She lives in Yorkshire with her husband,

their 7 year old daughter, and their little border terrier.


Miscarriage with My Mother | 16

Jacqueline Kirkpatrick is a writer from Albany, NY. She has been published in The Rumpus,

Creative Nonfiction, and Thought Catalog. Recently, her piece “The New Unnatural,” was published

in Nasty! - a collection of work by female writers with all proceeds going to Planned Parenthood. You

can follow her on IG: @thebeatenpoet or jacquelinekirkpatrick.com.

Fear Is a Walk Through Immovable Trees | 18

Linda Dove holds a Ph.D. in Renaissance literature and teaches college writing. She is also an

award-winning poet, and her books include, In Defense of Objects (2009), O Dear Deer, (2011), This Too

(2017), and the scholarly collection of essays, Women, Writing, and the Reproduction of Culture in Tudor

and Stuart Britain (2000). Poems have been nominated for a Pushcart Prize and the Robert H. Winner

Award from the Poetry Society of America, and she is editor of the online literary magazine, Moria. She

lives with her human family, two Jack Russell terriers, and three backyard chickens in the foothills of Los

Angeles.


this golden age | 20

Allie Marini is a cross-genre writer holding degrees from both Antioch University of Los Angeles & New

College of Florida. She was a 2018 Shitty Women in Literature nominee, and has been a finalist for Best of

the Net and nominated for the Pushcart Prize. Her masthead credits include Lunch Ticket, Spry Literary

Journal, and Mojave River Review. She has published a number of chapbooks, including Pictures from the

Center of The Universe (Paper Nautilus, winner of the Vella Prize) and Southern Cryptozoology: A Field

Guide to Beasts of the Southern Wild (Hyacinth Girl Press, finalist for the SFPA’s Elgin Award) In addition

to her work on the page, Allie was a member of Oakland’s 2017 National Slam Team. A native Floridian

now freezing to death in the Bay Area, Allie writes poetry, fiction, and essays. Find her online:

www.alliemarini.com

Eighth Month Swelter | 21

Caroljean Gavin started her MFA at The New School and finished it up at Queens University of

Charlotte. Her work has appeared in the 2011 Press 53 Open Awards Anthology, The Doctor T.J.

Eckleburg Review, The Ampersand Review, and Winston-Salem, NC’s Poetry in Plain Sight. She

is currently working on a novel, a story collection, and on becoming a librarian.


The whistle is missing from my life jacket | 22

Victoria Richards is a journalist and writer. In 2017/18 she was highly commended in the Bridport

Prize, came third in The London Magazine short story competition and second in the TSS flash

fiction competition. She was also shortlisted in the Lucy Cavendish Prize 2018 and longlisted in

the Bath Short Story Award and the National Poetry Competition.

Born Crying Sparkles, & Other Girl-Myths | 23

Audrey T. Carroll is a Queens, NYC native currently pursuing her English PhD at the University of

Rhode Island. Her obsessions include kittens, coffee, and Buffy the Vampire Slayer. Her work has

been published or is forthcoming in Fiction International, The Fem, Luna Luna, and others. Queen of

Pentacles, her debut poetry collection, is available from Choose the Sword Press. She can be found at

http://audreytcarrollwrites.weebly.com and @AudreyTCarroll on Twitter.

The Motherless Queen Mother Speaks | 24

Jen Rouse’s poems have appeared in Poetry, Poet Lore, Midwestern Gothic, Wicked Alice, Southern Florida

Poetry Journal, Yes Poetry, Crab Fat Magazine, Up the Staircase, and elsewhere. She was named a finalist

for the Mississippi Review 2018 Prize Issue and was the winner of the 2017 Gulf Stream Summer Contest

Issue. Rouse’s chapbook, Acid and Tender, was published in 2016 by Headmistress Press.

Find her at jen-rouse.com and on Twitter @jrouse.


Emilia | 25

Eileen Chong is a Sydney poet who was born in Singapore. She is the author of six books, the latest being

Rainforest from Pitt Street Poetry. Her work has shortlisted for the Anne Elder Award, the Victorian

Premier’s Literary Award, and twice for the Prime Minister’s Literary Awards.

Find her online: www.eileenchong.com.au

A Tribute to Pumping | 26

Eloísa Pérez-Lozano writes poems and essays about Mexican-American identity, motherhood, and

women’s issues. She graduated from Iowa State University with a B.S. in psychology and an M.S. in

journalism and mass communications. A 2016 Sundress Publications Best of the Net nominee, her work

has been featured in The Texas Observer, Houston Chronicle, and Poets Reading the News, among others.

She lives with her family in Houston, Texas.

Night Sounds (1/81) | 28

Judith Rodgers is a writer of poetry and plays. When she is not creating she teaches surgical nursing in

North Texas.


The Full Night | 30

Syche Phillips’ fiction has appeared in Burnt Pine Magazine, The Penmen Review, Mused, Mash Stories,

Synaesthesia Magazine, and more. Her short plays have been produced around the San Francisco Bay

Area. She lives two blocks from the beach with her awesome husband and two cute kids, works at a

theatre company, and blogs at sychela.com.

Handmade | 32

Amy Alexander is a poet and mother of a son and daughter. She live with her husband and children in

Baton Rouge, Louisiana. Her writing has appeared in many journals, including Quarterly West, The Coil,

and The Cream City Review. Her birth art has been featured at the Baton Rouge Gallery, and she has also

led birth art workshops for expectant and new mothers. Her artwork can be found throughout this issue.

A Turtle Carries its Home On Its Back | 34

Jacquelyn Bengfort was born in North Dakota, educated at the U.S. Naval Academy and Oxford University,

and now resides in Washington, DC. Her work has appeared in Midwestern Gothic, Gargoyle, Storm

Cellar, District Lines, matchbook, CHEAP POP, The Fem, Jellyfish Review, and numerous anthologies,

among other places. She was a finalist for SmokeLong Quarterly’s 2017 Kathy Fish Fellowship and The

Iowa Review’s 2016 Jeff Sharlet Memorial Award for Veterans, and currently holds a poetry fellowship

from the DC Commission on the Arts and Humanities. Find her online at www.JaciB.com.


Long Arms | 36

Maureen Langloss is a lawyer-turned-writer living in New York City. She serves as the Flash Fiction Editor

at Split Lip Magazine. Her writing has appeared in Gulf Coast, Pithead Chapel, Sonora Review, Wigleaf,

and elsewhere. In 2017, her work was nominated for Best of the Net and was a finalist in the Glimmer Train

Very Short Fiction Contest, as well as the Gigantic Sequins Flash Fiction Contest.

Find her online at maureenlangloss.com or on Twitter @maureenlangloss.

In the Garden | 40

Beatriz “Bea” Alamo (pronounced BAY-ah) is an illustrator & writer from St. Augustine, FL. She received a

B.F.A in Illustration with a minor in Creative Writing from Savannah College of Art & Design in March

2015. Currently, she is an art instructor for children, ages ranging from four years to twelve and older, but

hopes to write & illustrate her own book one day. You can find her personal work at www.beaalamo.com.

A Colleague Says I Can’t Be A Good Teacher | 42

Emma Bolden is the author of House Is An Enigma (forthcoming from Southeast Missouri State UP),

medi(t)ations (Noctuary Press, 2016), and Maleficae (GenPop Books, 2013). The recipient of a 2017 Creative

Writing Fellowship from the NEA, her work has appeared in The Best American Poetry, The Best Small

Fictions, and such journals as the Mississippi Review, The Rumpus, StoryQuarterly, New Madrid,

TriQuarterly, the Indiana Review, Shenandoah, the Greensboro Review, and The Journal. She currently

serves as Associate Editor-in-Chief for Tupelo Quarterly.


Image Credits

Laborynth | 17

Amy Alexander

Waiting to Inhale | 29

Amy Alexander

Farmer’s wife, ironing in the kitchen | 35

The Miriam and Ira D. Wallach Division of Art, Prints and Photographs: Photography Collection,

The New York Public Library. “Farmer’s wife, ironing in kitchen.”

The New York Public Library Digital Collections. 1860 - 1920.

http://digitalcollections.nypl.org/items/510d47d9-ad88-a3d9-e040-e00a18064a99

The Bridge | 39

Amy Alexander

Howl | 45

Amy Alexander


Shark | Abigail Pearson

In my dreams I am a shark

Long in body

Sleek in mind

A fin gracing the ocean

A predator-

My third eye tells me I am not

I am most like a mother

Warm and soft and comforting

I don’t mind the illusion

I just mind this body of mine-

The empty womb that mocks me

Blood tinted water

Another moon passing me by

I am holding myself together with twine

Watching hopes break upon the shore.

11


Omen | Kerry Campion de Santiago

We cradle a palmful of

little black seeds. I expect them

to jump - like fleas. But they

stay flat; dead.

They clot together in a

bulbous mass like a

tumour, sticky and clumpy

in our damp hands.

We scrape them off - and watch

as they plummet to their glass

coffin. We dump some soil

on top: burying them alive.

After a month their tendrils,

their spindly little limbs, remain

unsprouted. Their soft heads uncrowned.

They need moisture

12


So you cloister their world in cellophane

to make it rain inside. You’ve covered

the mouth of their universe which

gapes open like a moon.

I’m reminded of a child with

a plastic bag over its head

frantically gulping -

I feel my stomach for kicks.

13


Yet Somehow Still There | Claire Peasegood

I’ll never forget it

Lying down on the scanning chair

Tummy full of nervous anticipation

And what I’d hoped was life, love, my baby bear.

The cold gel, the pressure

Followed by the earth shattering silence

That’s so loud it bursts your eardrums

Then the inevitable…

Those three words…

“I’m so sorry…”

More silence.

Then three more…

“There’s no heartbeat.”

A flood of emotions:

Anguish, Denial, Despair.

Emptiness.

14


The instinctive protective hand to my tummy

To comfort the child I had grown to love and make plans for

Before the cold, unwelcome, horrifying realisation that

He’s gone.

Yet somehow still there.

For now at least. Before the long and painful farewell

And the emptiness that nothing can fill.

Yet somehow still there,

Inside my heart forever,

Goodnight little one.

Always know that you are loved.

15


Miscarriage with My Mother | Jacqueline Kirkpatrick

A mobile overhead

clowns on tricycles

smiling

I squeeze her fingers in mine

I apologize when I hear her knuckles crack

She tears up

says she loves me

holds me gently

Ten hours listening to a pulse

that only whispers my name

She sits beside me

reading aloud

Don Quixote

16


Laborynth | Amy Alexander

17


Fear Is a Walk Through Immovable Trees | Linda Dove

at the botanic garden, Claremont, California

It is the wolf

with the yellow wing

in its eye. No.

It is more like a blister of sap,

pinecones blown across

the garden. In the grove,

the oaks don’t lose their leaves

and can’t be moved by law.

Instead, it turns its attention

to the brevifolia, the brief leaves

of the Joshua Trees

that bend to the ground like we do

to read the signs—or, maybe,

like time does. Time is relative

here. It has no use for us.

It will turn down our words,

having others. In this fairytale

garden, it reminds us

of the fairytale child

we almost had. She was going

before she arrived, when

18


we would have named her

after a tree—

Rowan,

Willow,

Fern.

She is the ghost

we might see in the water

if we pass by a pool,

where we might want

to assume a bottom

since some depths echo

the unstarred sky.

But back to the wolf,

visiting today in the gardens,

standing at the edge of everything—

like the wolf, it is always

a matter of degree.

It is the paws staked in the dirt,

and the snow-blind coat,

and also the eye

that moves under water like a gold coin.

19


this golden age | Allie Marini

pregnancy, like

one of the Dutch Masters,

rendered me as a still life on canvas:

with strokes in dry brush,

a spinster’s silhouette

unmarred

by distended bellies

or mother’s milk.

20


Eighth Month Swelter | Caroljean Gavin

Backyard dogs bark at lightning bugs.

Closed windows do nothing.

My bed is my aching island,

Kicked off, wadded up blankets bluff the edge, still,

Heat rises, rises, rises off my skin,

And the ceiling fan blows it back down in.

Even the son inside is restless

Rolling and rippling,

Tossing and turning,

Swearing and sobbing.

Even he can feel the devil hanging in the humidity.

We are being patient.

We are waiting, waiting, waiting for

That cool hand to deliver us from summer.

21


The whistle is missing from my life jacket | Victoria Richards

When he is born he is piscine slippery, grey and unearthly.

Black-button eyes frozen by shock-sudden roaring, suckerfish

caught in dull, red slip-stream. He ducks and slaps, blows

bubbles, panic-pulls blue cord that binds and breaks us

and I can’t believe he’s here. Is he okay? Is he breathing?

I rest my head against the rim and wait for someone to shout

– man overboard –

22


Born Crying Sparkles, & Other Girl-Myths | Audrey T. Carroll

I started carving a place for you in this world before

confirmation of your existence, before the dream where we

giggled & played on the floor as the sunlight blessed us both

in softness, before a black & white screen endorsed your girlhood.

Carving is necessary when the mold is built one-size, no

customization conceded, like hand-me-down socks with hearts

cuffing the ankles, & I knew—whoever you were—I wanted you

to be able to sport tutus while inventing stories with dinosaurs

because I was allowed one, my brother the other, & it nearly

strangled the life out of us both even with my still-surviving

pink obsession & love of florals (because the combat boots

& AC/DC were never invited out to play, didn’t exist, locked

away in a corner rust-haven of a closet where the scraps

that didn’t fit the template were sent until they accepted their

irrelevance). I sharpen my tongue in anticipation of every illadvised

decree that you should be offered tiaras & pointe

shoes only (that lightsabers are for boys, that girls don’t like

science & should go, regardless of interest, paint a rose instead)

because I heard that every time, because I know the asphyxia

of forced-upon lace, of ruffles coiling like cobras around childsized

ribs,

& I will always let you choose.

23


The Motherless Queen Mother Speaks | Jen Rouse

She is my daughter

I am not your daughter

She reflects my submerged emotions

like distortions in molten glass

You cradle my suffering

in the belly of each full embrace

She split from me like a hive in spring

I was and will never be yours

to split from

She will never let me go

You must let me go

She belongs to a lineage of complicated queens

and I belong to no one

24


Emilia | Eileen Chong

The babies made me invincible.

Invincible, Maggie Smith

Her eyes (still grey, blue, and green) search

mine out. I meet her gaze, then hold her.

She bobs her head at me, and I lower mine

in return. Our foreheads meet and cleave.

I tilt her backwards, my hand cradling her neck,

then lift her towards me, and tilt her again.

She clings to me—freedom and safety,

safety and freedom. It is a game she knows,

and she smiles, and smiles. Her laughter,

a talisman; her eyes, a ward. She sees me,

and so I exist. I am here, and I suffer.

Soon she will go, and my love with her.

I wake to the smell of milk. The hungry

mouth. The animal grip of her clenched fists.

25


A Tribute to Pumping | Eloísa Pérez-Lozano

I resist and resent you at first

your plastic parts and tubes

your motor that provides

the motion picture soundtrack

of milky metronome to

my 20-minute movie thrice a day.

Your suction is less subtle than

my son’s enthusiastic gulps

your mechanic tugs do their job

without hormones or emotion

as milk collects, drop by drop

a means to a motherly end.

A sign of three meager months

a leave deemed generous here

but seen as a pathetic pittance

elsewhere, barely enough time

to take in the smiles and laughter

just starting to fill my senses.

26


Ever so slowly, your sucking

becomes soothing to my ears,

rhythmic reminders to sit still

in the midst of work’s whirlwinds

invitations to breathe, read, write

my words and thoughts untouched.

You give me time with me

creative space to flesh out ideas

poems put on hold, ready

to spill forth, taking shape

when you render me

inaccessible to all outside.

No longer an annoying daily chore

I clean your parts with care

taking my time to rinse them gently

as I realize that through this routine

the mom and poet in me rejoice

simultaneously safe from sacrifice.

27


Night Sounds (1/81) | Judith Rodgers

I wake to the sounds of night.

The gentle, old dog snores softly in the corner.

My husband breathes the heavy, regular sounds

Of sleep at my shoulder.

A car moves slowly past outside

With the splash of last night’s rain.

I rise quietly and pad through the ancient, creaking house

To where the twins lay sleeping.

One child murmurs and turns himself over.

Within me, another child rolls, wriggles, kicks,

Then quietens,

Waiting silently for the time when she, too,

May breathe gently into the night.

28


Waiting to Inhale | Amy Alexander

29


The Full Night | Syche Phillips

I should sing the praises of the easy nights–

The kid sleeps 7 to 7,

Splayed in 70 different positions.

His pursed lips breathe easily, softly,

Starfish hands open and close,

Searching, in sleep, for Legos, for blankets, and apple juice,

Or maybe, for things out of reach during the day:

The blinds, our phones, the coffee maker.

He sleeps face up, legs spread, arms outreached,

Looking longer than I could ever imagine he’d be at 1 year, 23 months.

Or he sleeps on his stomach,

Cute rump in the air, hands fisted in blankets.

Or he sleeps on his side, using a lovey as a pillow,

Small fists up as if playing air violin.

However he sleeps,

He sleeps well, and deeply,

And I’ve gotten spoiled by these 12-hour stretches

Where I can trust he’s safe and secure.

I should sing the praises of these nights—

Of standing over him in the light spilling from the hallway

While I stoke his palm and will it to close reflexively on my finger,

30


Or brush back the dream-damp curls from his forehead.

I touch him unrestrainedly because I trust he will sleep through it.

My little sleeping beauty, my sleeping beau,

Repeatedly giving me the gift of my own full night of sleep.

I should sing the praises more often.

I should sing them while they last.

31


Handmade | Amy Alexander

After the son,

my hands wept for loss of clay

then, after the girl, they forgot the feeling.

Their new calling was cloth swaddling waste,

a foul swan bound for the sewer

took the statue’s place,

and there would be no more faces, no more figures,

broad hips with folded arms

I was the fertility idol, now, only flaccid

I made, in my mind, a sculpture of a woman,

whole on one side,

hole on the other,

full and then empty, cause that’s how I felt

Without time or energy for clay,

I filled a Mason Jar with pieces of Barbie and Baby Alive,

I snapped them apart at the joints and divided their plastic minds from their plastic bodies,

they smiled through the warped glass,

day and night, they smiled, they were empty but they looked full

32


I wrote, “I am disassembled,”

I wrote, “I don’t recognize myself.”

I wrote, “I dreamed a house at the edge of the desert.”

I wrote, “the animals are all drowning.”

My studio filled with voices as the children grew,

voices and the mothers they belonged to,

all of our materials were non-toxic but we told truth,

pastel mandalas pressing hard,

life apart at the seams in abstract, water based,

nests out of mud and sticks from the backyard,

breast milk and crayons on a sheet of cotton

stitches putting back the bodies

new bodies

finding old hands

33


A Turtle Carries its Home On Its Back | Jacquelyn Bengfort

and for that I admire it. Still, above all else,

I want a laundry room.

No, hear me out.

In such a room, with beautiful large machines,

we could wash, oh, anything out of our sheets.

In a room like this, in a house like that,

we could start each day fresh,

unwrinkled, stainless, blameless.

You know, I had my kids in the middle

of a city and I’m looking for someplace to run to.

Try this: list all the things you want

to run from. Where do you end up?

Nowhere on earth is my answer,

though on a good day I may laugh,

Canada. On my best days I think,

34

A snug little house with a laundry room,

now, that could be a start.


Farmer’s wife, ironing in kitchen.

35


Long Arms | Maureen Langloss

I come from a long line

Of mothers with homemade

Sugar cookies in the

Cupboard. God at the table.

My kid’s sewing machine lives

On our table—with the takeout.

I don’t know how to use it.

Also, my vintage MacBook

Pro. Half-drunk cups of tea

forgotten between paragraphs

and swear words. I aspire to angel food

cake under glass—

a single slice removed, angels

exposed, singing hymns, making it

more inviting than cake already,

36

by birthright, is. I aspire to lemons—

in transparent bowls—

casting their fresh citrus goodness,

their tart suggestion of French 75,

of pucker. Maybe limes too.

Limes and daisies in vases. Separate vases. Matching

furniture would be nice. Bedside tables of equal size.


I do have piles on

mismatched tables though. Maybe

there are pictures of lemons

or daisy poems

or descriptions of baked goods

hidden like prayers in the

piles of literary magazines and

Real Simples and novels I’ve read to page 33

and catalogues from which I might purchase

seam-free socks for my kid who has this sensation

problem, this processing complaint, involving

seams, that turns her all monster, that makes

piles of tears come out before the shoes go on. Hug. Hug.

There are piles of drafts on tables too. Stories poems

essays novels rambling walking kinda slow. Twitchy. Covered with

pencil marks over margins under knickers

behind ears like washcloths across baby skin. I’ve surely already inputted

these revisions in the MacBook Pro, deleted them again, had them declined by

the Submittable machine. Still, I save them next to piles of rainbows. Dozens of

magic marker drawings, light separated into parts, because my kid with the seams has

rainbow rainbow rainbow issues too. There’s probably a pharmaceutical to treat her addiction

already in the piles of medicine boxes we’ve saved from the forty sick days my kids accumulated

this year, saved with the instructions on pages so thin

37


they slice me. Then there’s my middle child’s book: The Secret Life of Parents.

I wonder what she knows.

She writes paragraphs and erases them, puts pages into out of into piles. She gives me a kiss. My

husband adds packing materials for all the things he might return or store, for the pains and angers I’ve

caused him that he tosses on the piles too, kiss kiss, which are now wobbling with the weight of my

son’s report cards from the school that gives him tests tests tests so long they take more than a day and

come home wound-up in scrolls to hide the grades, tests for which I give hugs, make flashcards, type

practice tests with irregular verb conjugations state capitals poems by dead white guys—which nuzzle

up against stacks of shrink bills for the stress the insomnia the shit fuck damn those dead white guys and

this living white mom

inflict on him. I’ll never tidy these piles because they’re the kind of mom I am, the dusty, limping sort

who grows long arms with suction cup fingers to keep them all from toppling and hugs all around and

lukewarm water in the bath, at least twenty in progress on Submittable and email lists for that

class mom job they keep giving

and I keep accepting, accepting.

38


The Bridge | Amy Alexander

39


In the Garden | Bea Alamo

My mother tends to her garden

early on Saturday morning

before the sun

slips in through the trees.

I happen to be awake at this time

(I can never sleep well

at home nowadays)

and I walk out

to the far side of the backyard,

where her flowers bloom.

She whispers their names

into each of their petals

that ache from too much sleep,

then pours them a glass of water.

When she goes on

about her flowers to me,

I am angry at the way she talks

because I can’t speak fluent Spanish with her,

and I am jealous of her laugh lines

because they weren’t there

before I left home.

40


She taught me the meaning of

demasiado.

It means too much,

like when there’s a perfectly good chair

sitting across from mine at the dinner table

that my mother refuses to fill or move,

even after ten years.

“But remember,

you can’t use mucho there. There’s a difference.

‘Te amo mucho, pero duele demasiado.’”

Is that what she meant when my brother left his body in the hospital room?

Is that why she cares more for her flowerbed than her own?

But she is glowing now,

she is not empty anymore,

so I don’t dare ruin this for her.

41


A Colleague Says I Can’t Be A Good Teacher | Emma Bolden

because I can’t feel, can’t love the way I should

because I didn’t have children (she doesn’t say

can’t) & shock lays its silence in my mouth, an unyolked

egg, & so I sit in my quiets while the meeting

buzzes around me, all the mouths munching their cottage

cheese & canned peaches & romaine leaves working

against silence like a movie, I refuse to cry, I refuse to

hate her, I refuse to speak because there’s no

way to word the drive back home after the blood

tests & questions, after I’d signed to acknowledge

the risks of hysterectomy, after a Chevy stopped in

traffic beside me & I looked into a window & then

into the eyes of a child, pigtailed & big toothed &

waving & then I wasn’t driving just arriving in the far

lane then the gas station where I cried while a sign

42


offered my tires air for twenty-five cents, because a life

is a ledger that won’t reveal its losses, because it took

months for the organs in my abdomen to settle

into the empty my surgeon made of the place

my uterus had been but no baby became mine to

have or to hold, because a plan is just a list to which

your body must agree, because even if she knows

the facts she doesn’t know how it hits me

on a Monday through Sunday, in stadiums &

grocery stores & exit lanes & televisions, how

every story rises its action to the same resolution,

which is no, which is not, un-, none, & how many

years will I be there, here, in this classroom with this

cottage cheese, with the bright peeling off the overhead

lights & falling onto the whiteboard where I will never

43


stop seeing the math lesson she’d scrawled for her

students (less than, less than, less than) until the bell

rings & the outside becomes a bright I can’t believe

still lives, still lights the children so beautifully

into a recognition of my never that I wait in

the stall & don’t cry until all their impossible sweet

small shoes squeak out of the bathroom & then I can’t

stop it, the loss delivered of me so loud & clear & high.

44


Howl | Amy Alexander

45

Similar magazines