The Best Literary Writing About Mothers and Motherhood

Kelli Russell Agodon

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Kelli Russell Agodon

Post-Partum Depression in Volvo

For weeks, depression wrote her
letters. Now darkness is so close,
she feels its tongue

in her mouth. In the slow motion
of impact, car hitting tree, she imagines

Plath, how that was one way and this,
another. She wonders if she’s connected
to poets, not by blood, but gloom.

Where is her child?
And in which room?
A doctor in a blue mask looms:

You made it. You’re all right.
She realizes every note
she’s written has been overlooked

and looked over.
Strangers walk to the window
and tap on the glass—

Are you okay in there?
She sees a robin swallowed
by an evergreen, a coyote asleep

in a metal trap. She wants to be outside,
on her hands and knees grabbing the earth—

Forgive me for wanting
to leave; forgive me
for not knowing how to go.



She adds rosemary to the salad,
unties her denim apron.
There is no word for mother

and wife, but she wants
to be both, and well. She loses
her place in the kitchen—white

bread or sage focaccia? Spaghettios
or bruschetta? She can’t recall
whose meal this is—the man

she sees infrequently or the daughter
who appears at sunrise. Her mind
mixes ingredients and still, the recipe

burns before it is baked. Sometimes
she believes the oven speaks to her,
tells her to trust its open mouth.

Kelli Russell Agodon is a poet, writer, and editor from the Pacific Northwest. She’s the author of six books, most recently, Hourglass Museum (Finalist for the Washington State Book Awards) & The Daily Poet: Day-By-Day Prompts For Your Writing Practice. She is also the cofounder of Two Sylvias Press. /


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