The Best Literary Writing About Mothers and Motherhood
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Origami by Colleen Michaels

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Origami

I’ve read about women who say they can’t write
New mothers, their arms a cramped night, crescent

They hold what they cannot yet tell. My baby was milky
paper to me then, a smooth sheet, the inverse.

But I can no longer hold her. Or write her.
Your body, my almost grown girl, is yours alone.

But know I want to fold your good bones into my lap.
I know how inelegant it would look, a well-intended poem

of poor proportion. I can’t pin tuck time through air, can’t
write you to stay on the page. You are my cornered sheet slipping

Difficult to make. You finally sleep, my morning starfish
I walk softly outside your door, stay on my side of the line

we have drawn without drawing, listen as you play Jenga
with the entire universe into the the deep and lonely night of no words

How you breathe and hold your charm
bracelet over each move. Your tell.


Colleen Michaels’ poems have been made into installations on shower curtains, bar coasters, and the stairs to Crane Beach in Ipswich, Massachusetts. She directs the Writing Studio at Montserrat College of Art in Beverly, Massachusetts, where she hosts The Improbable Places Poetry Tour bringing poetry to unlikely places like tattoo parlors, laundromats, and swimming pools. Yes, in the swimming pool.

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