The Best Literary Writing About Mothers and Motherhood

Her Stethoscope by Gwen North Reiss

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When she began to report on the world outside
(first grade), strange pages came home.
I saw everything all over again—the hunybee,
the bootiful air, and the erthworm
primitive without his “a.”

Now she keeps a stethoscope in her car.
In the emergency room, the paddock, the pasture,
and on the exam table—paws, panting, skitterings, and wings,
black hooves, and orb-like eyes—

she listens to all sizes of beats and murmurs
with that rapt listening of one who is tuned
into a dark-chambered muscle.
Afterwards, her fingers fly

over the keys to say what was inside.
She says that every time she types the word
“hear,” it comes out “heart.”
The final “t” slips in.

I see her ear in the middle
but the hand outrunning the mind,
an interior current traveling lightly by
navigating and half-ignoring language,
the body an open eye.

 


Gwen North Reiss has published poems in such magazines as Rhino, Truck, Dogwood, and the Connecticut Review. Her poem, “Illuminated,” won the 2012 Rachel Wetzsteon Prize at the 92nd Street Y’s Unterberg Poetry Center. She has a B.A. in English and French Literature from Yale University.

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