Motherhood Literature + Art

Speculating by Jennifer Jean

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Jennifer Jean


Grendel was the name of this grim demon haunting the marches, marauding around the heath/ and the desolate fens. ~lines 103-4, Beowulf


Sometimes, Grendel is a fist—
is 5 or so dicks
digging into
1 proverbial palm
in 1971.

Sometimes, they’re my father.
The timing’s right.

Sometimes: I was in there—the box
inside the gift box.

Inside mom—my
pummeled fetal skull &
5 dicks fighting for rights:
her, making her
guilty for wanting
smokes at dawn
near the Venice Beach boardwalk
in 1971.

She refused
her own words for years.

Sometimes: I slipped past
residual sludge &
my father is Joe,
is known.
Like she said.

& having poured through her
gauntlet means
I’ve power.
Pain scours &
I’m perfect &
every tunnel opens.

Open esophagus!
Come out
first scream!

Sometimes I’m family, sometimes
The timing’s wrong. 9 months &
there was me

& all these hints all along,
from you
uncles aunts cousins kin
in photos I keep.

Who do I claim who claims me?

Sometimes: my kids
where I come from

& don’t know
they come from that

They don’t believe I
was as small
as a fist.

Sometimes: the air & the light enter my mouth, & crown, &
no matter

what, this body is holy

Jennifer JeanJennifer Jean’s debut collection is The Fool (Big Table 2013). Her poetry has appeared in: Rattle, Waxwing, Tidal Basin, Denver Quarterly, Mud City Journal, Green Mountains Review, and more. Jennifer is Poetry Editor for The Mom Egg Review, Managing Editor of Talking Writing Magazine, and Co-director of Morning Garden Artist Retreats. She teaches Free2Write poetry workshops to sex-trafficking survivors.


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