The Best Literary Writing About Mothers and Motherhood
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Jacaranda by Kate Bolton Bonnici

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Summer already and too hot, time for movement, blowing
left or right even, if forward is too much to ask,
hips shifting, knees flexed like basketball players,
ankle-breakers, fast and then gone, a going somewhere,
not just out, but an affirmative heading in the direction of,
and this is moving and this moving is like victory
and victory means a finding, a found, a there, a discovery,
an opening to knowing. It’s not just about pleasure now.
It’s not about the damp, veined carrot dipped in raw
almond butter, the sound of the bite, smooth-bumpy chewing,
sweet double-dipping of one plate. There was a time
when this was enough. My sofa lumpy and hollowed
out from the curves of our backs and the angles of our legs.
If we could absorb words, we would survive.
But, we got greedy. We wanted to get up, to walk, to punch
the pillows so they sat upright and firm, supporting bright,
upright bodies. We didn’t want to just make coffee,
we wanted to drink the coffee and walk for miles at a time,
carrying hot cups in our hands. We wanted
to do more than absorb each other, absorb work,
absorb the smell of cars on Montana. We wanted to boomerang
our bodies like bouncing trampolines on the up-bounce,
convex, projecting, outward thrust against the air
until we were flexing, whipping, the launching black
plastic-rubber surface and the launched, bodies jammed
weightless in the air, legs spread, arms
flat, calm, riding momentum: we wanted to speak.
The speaking led to other ills of ambition. We wanted to speak
art, to speak authority, to speak creation. And then our two
became three, became four, and speaking authority
meant more training — wait, wait — more reading, more
absorbing — wait — and speaking art meant more working
on non-art — your turn soon — more years, more
writing in a dark room, one child sleeping on a bed
that is too big for her, a bed that makes the room too small,
a bed from which she could fall, only this is the one place
I could get her to sleep, only this is why
I sit nearby, furtive, scribbling, desk jammed
against a light-seeping window. Outside, jacaranda trees shed
their wet, mushed purple flowers. The children
put dying purple feathers in their mouths,
step on bulging blossoms. The baby on the bed
cries and mumbles, scrap of yellow sheet crunched
in her fist. I hope her stirring will pass, my hand
on the page but she is up, on all fours, rocking, calling
out, scrambling for the edge. And I am there, pressing my forehead
to hers, swearing, God damn you, kid, kissing her cheeks
and her eyelids, picking her up, holding her high
on my right hip so that she can swat my hair with her fat,
splayed-out fingers as if she approves of our arrangement.
We stumble together away from the closed room, toward
the rest of you and all those purple blooms.

 


Kate BonniciKate Bolton Bonnici lives with her husband and children in Los Angeles. She grew up in Alabama and graduated from Harvard University and New York University School of Law. Her work has appeared or is forthcoming in the Southern Humanities Review, B O D Y, The Examined Life Journal, Kudzu Review, MotherWriterMentor, and The Fertile Source (and she currently serves as Guest Poetry Editor of that journal). Kate was a finalist for the 2012 Morton Marr Poetry Prize. She will be an MFA candidate in poetry at the University of California, Riverside, beginning in Fall 2013.

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