The Best Literary Writing About Mothers and Motherhood
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Just Like Itself by Lynne DeSilva-Johnson

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for Beckett Rose

before they took you from your bed inside me, before they
made that exploratory sleuce through exoderm, endoderm, abdomen
before your pale soft skin and hair like a tawny cat’s
were presented to me disconcertingly already-clean
and before that same cut would refuse to heal,
reopening as if to remind how unfinished it is, this
business of being born

(if asked,
I would reply that I’m only in my preface, preambling,
while wordless, all wonder, you appear fully written.
do days erase?)

yes. before that.
immediately before, or at least on that day when the pain came
slow and then quicker, a fistful of knives in my gut,
then.
then, when distraction was at such a premium,

I set my hair.

set it just so: big round candypink curlers along the sides
like a layer cake made of hostess confections
or maybe not. maybe just like itself:
dark brown and secretly stick straight serious
now forced to smile in cascading curls
like the hair of my grandmothers
who would have never dreamed of any less
on such an important occasion

 


Lynne DeSilva-Johnson is the Founder and Managing Editor of The Operating System; a slinger of image, text, sound, and code; a frequent interdisciplinary collaborator; and a regular curator of events in NYC and beyond. An adjunct in the CUNY system for a decade, and a K-12 teaching artist since 2001. Lynne is also a social practice artist and poet, appearing at The Dumbo Arts Festival, Naropa University, Bowery Arts and Science, The NYC Poetry Festival, Eyebeam, Undercurrent Projects, Mellow Pages, The New York Public Library, The Poetry Project, Industry City Distillery, Independent Curators International, and the Cooper Union, among others.

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