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Motherlung by Lisa Marie Brodsky

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The Mother Who Wasn't

Brodsky, Lisa Marie

Childless, I hold countless
children inside. This month I bleed 
an extra blood-letting due to confused 
hormones and wonder 
if I lose them in each clot, 
but they remain hushed
like chanting nuns

Red makes me feel the most blue. 

I remember Mom telling me at twelve
that I bleed to bear babies and I imagined
baby after baby slipping from my uterus
as I fainted on a starch-white bed. 

Now, with husband and stepchildren, 
I am busy with 
dishes, homework, the occasional cough syrup,
and bedtime books.

Afterward, I lie still in bed. The moonís pull
tugs at me through the east window.
It wants babies and calls for the oceanís 
current to rock me toward birth,
but the blood continues 
to break against the tides
each month.

I cannot give birth to my stepchildren
and make them mine. Though I learn to love,
delight, and eventually, sacrifice,
I still hear my parallel universe: 

babies crying
their vowels to me, 
babies listening to their heartsick mother 
call out their unused names. 

Copyright © 2014 Lisa Marie Brodsky

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