The Best Literary Writing About Mothers and Motherhood

Sonia Greenfield – Poetry

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Sonia Greenfield

 

GHOST BABY

Sprung from a dream, a clot,
a stolen heartbeat, and she settles
into the arms of a stranger,

but when I look again, it is only
the face of a stranger’s baby.
The ghost baby slips into

my womb and shifts but when
I whisper, Are you there? I get
no answer, only a trickle

of blood. The ghost baby
wants me to take us to the park
and push her swing until we

are left to wear the town’s frost
and moonlight like a sateen
sheath. She feeds

endlessly, cries bitterly,
and expects to be held and never
put down until I am tired

of my own ghost baby.
My ghost baby lives in an attic
where she pulls an old

breast-pump from a box
and casts it aside, where she
sleeps in a real child’s swing

until I am haunted by the ticking
of its rocking and the sweet
rot of its music-box.

 

THE PULL

There is that tickle
sometimes at the back
of the throat, a kind of

stabbing twinge you can’t
swallow, or there is that
sharp itch on the sole

unscratchable under sock
and shoe. In each relief
is out of reach. Yearning

feels like this, a sickening
pull from the navel
towards what one wants,

an almost heaving of
viscera through the mouth,
but I would call it “longing”

because I was trucking
the windingest haul
on the roads of desire.

I used to drink bourbon
and wait for the ice to melt
into the shape of a fetus.

Used to sleep my way
into subconscious betrayal,
dreams handing me

my swaddled sum.
Though I am better now,
sometimes I can feel

the kite string tied inside
me cut through when
what I want yanks it,

nylon cord wrapped in
the clenched fist
of a newborn.


Sonia Greenfield is the author of three books: Circus Gravitas (Finishing Line Press), Boy with a Halo at the Farmer’s Market (Codhill Press), and American Parable (Autumn House). She lives with her husband and son in Hollywood where she edits the Rise Up Review and directs the Southern California Poetry Festival.

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