The Best Literary Writing About Mothers and Motherhood
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Aleppo in the Heart of the Living Room and Archipelago by Amy Strauss Friedman

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Aleppo in the Heart of the Living Room

Every soul needs a proper chaperone
to say nothing of a champion.
Especially after sloshing
around this broken world.

My heart lacks a tenant,
though each chamber
stands wallpapered
and ready for occupancy.
I’ve posted want ads
in all the neighborhood papers:
Open Room, Low Rent,
Minimal Maintenance Required.

I wait.
Squint in the glint
of pregnant light
that streams like a laser
through my blinds,
reflecting off my daughter’s name
in dainty gold plaque
hanging around my neck.

I think of Aleppo’s children,
who live and die where light is blue
and bombs force buildings
to vomit human flesh.
I flash to the still life
of the boy in the back of an ambulance,
snuggled in the blasted ash
of other people’s bodies.

And yet it’s still life
here in my open-faced apartment
where the mountains stare
through the windows
bare-chested and unashamed,
and my life’s guarded
in whispering daylight
that fades to the thrum of a rhythm
I can no longer hear, only intuit,
like the heart of the child gasping
for slivers of moonlight
as it chokes on the smog of its brother.

 

 

Archipelago

The kitchen designer asked
if we wanted an island or a peninsula.

Amid sand and seas,
did we want desertion or rescue?

“We’d like an archipelago,” I told her.
Each our own small island to return to

when the salt water my daughter and I feed each other
trammels the tides of our throats.


Amy Strauss Friedman is the author of the chapbook Gathered Bones are Known to Wander (Red Bird, 2016). Her poems have appeared or are forthcoming in The Rumpus, Pittsburgh Poetry Review, Kentucky Review, decomP, Red Paint Hill, et al. She lives in Denver, Colorado. Her work can be found at amystraussfriedman.com.

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