The Best Literary Writing About Mothers and Motherhood

Catherine Gigante-Brown – Poetry

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Catherine Gigante-Brown

 

Poem to My Younger Self

Dear Cat,

You couldn’t possibly imagine
how it would turn out.
Sometimes you wished you would die
from the pain of not belonging,
of not being like anyone else.
But this uniqueness,
this difference,
became your strength,
your sword.

You couldn’t possibly know
that you would find love—
several times—
but one that really mattered.
Hang in there;
it’s all worth it.
You’ll see.
I promise.

You couldn’t possibly imagine
how hard it would be sometimes
but also that it would be
equally as wonderful.
You are so incredibly powerful.
There is so much resolve in you.
Stubbornness? Maybe.
But it is also a survival mechanism,
your Superpower.

The things that make others crumble
only make you stronger.
The things that make other people give up
only make you fight harder.

Yes, you will get breast cancer.
Twice.
And you will think
that you can’t
go through this again.
But you can.
You will.
You are.
Right now.
But you will come out
On the other side,
even stronger.

And it is through
the absolute shit
of surgery,
chemotherapy
and radiation
that you will learn
just how many people
love you,
just how many people
you inspire.
That you matter.
That it all matters:
the laughter as well as the tears,
the blood that flows through your veins,
and the JP drain collecting lymphatic fluid
that you try to hide beneath your shirt.

But trust me,
it’s all worth it:
sunsets in Madrid
and the CT scans;
your son’s brilliant smile
and the MRIs;
knowing that your husband
sometimes watches you sleep
and watching the Taxol drain
from the infusion bag.
It’s all worth it,
every last
drop.

 

Brave Woman, Part 2

Sometimes, when I am not feeling so brave,
I chomp on the pendant my husband gave me.
(It says BRAVE WOMAN in crooked Courier caps.)
I bite it, trying to garner strength from the beaten copper,
but not hard enough to leave toothmarks.

Sometimes, when I am lying on the examination table,
my feet in stainless steel stirrups, a clamp within me,
I touch the necklace’s cool metal, making it warm with worry.

Sometimes, when I am waiting for my biopsy results,
I toy with the opal bead,
strum the metal threads that hold it in place like a silent guitar.
I can barely feel the tiny stars etched into its surface,
ten of them for the month I was born.

For some strange reason, it helps to do all of these things
rather than do nothing.

I remember when my husband gave me the pendant.
I told him, “But I’m not a brave woman.”
And he said, “Yes, you are…You’re still here.”


Catherine Gigante-Brown is a poet, novelist and essayist. Her works have appeared in numerous publications. Gigante-Brown’s novels, The El Trilogy (The El, The Bells of Brooklyn, Brooklyn Roses), Different Drummer, Better than Sisters and the upcoming Paul and Carol Go to Guatemala, are available from Volossal Publishing. She divides her time between her native Brooklyn and Rosendale, New York, where she lives with her husband and son.

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