The Best Literary Writing About Mothers and Motherhood

Michelle Reale – Body Image

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Michelle Reale



This year my sorrow drowns itself. I can’t be responsible anymore. Here is where I’m at: you’ve nailed my hair to the floorboards, and I lay quiet, all shallow breathing like certain death. You claim to see the shadow of a dowager’s hump and fiddle with a fragile bone at the base of my neck. You predicted a distance between us while you filled the air with the ghosts of other bodies you have seen, those you have feigned affection for. Was it a dream when you claimed extreme deficiency, ugliness in the body that housed your un-children? I might have imagined or maybe I just like to pretend. My long arms circle my broad waist while my mirror image quells your hard edge; let the blood do a decent job, and clot, once and for all. I am displacement here and no longer take any vows I can’t rescind with the blink of my mottled eye. All familiar settings deny me the gloss of the finish that belongs to me. It is what we have all been waiting for. At the ancestral level, I am grateful for inheritance. At the collective level I whisper remedies and white doves that whisper urgencies of lost love. You will wait me out. This body. This temple. These peonies decorate the transformation of all the fables I have knitted in my pale hands. And still, I cannot, without the distortion of the eternally optimistic, make my prayers heard over the sharp-edged bone.


Michelle Reale is an associate professor at Arcadia University.  She is the author of nine collections of poetry including the forthcoming Confini: Poems of Refugees in Sicily (Cervena Barva Press, 2018) and Behold, My Laminate Life (Big Table Books, 2018). She is the Founding and Managing Editor of Ovunque Siamo: New Italian-American Writing.


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