Also Me

[reaches into poem and plucks me out, like a dandelion]

 

[too many ways to start a story]

 

[too many beautiful non-stories to carve out and point to, saying, here is the cave’s entry and exit]

 

[discovers mothering shifts one’s rhetorical situation entirely]

 

[recalls being in labor, and not being able to smile at the nurses speaking kindly to her, that this is one of the first times she cannot trade pleasantries with other people, she can only breathe and be in a place where the rope coiled around her torso is wrenched in opposite directions]

 

[within her, an immense gratitude smolders]

 

[starts again, looks for the right opening]

 

[considers the tan and green-tinged whirlybirds winging down from the maples over her and toddler son]

 

[knows toddler son’s name might as well be the first line of every poem now]

 

[reads own poems from before son was born, curiously, gazing from behind her own former shoulder]

 

[the body is context and landscape, convex, concave]

 

[what falls from trees is punctuation]

 

[declares that the day has a narrative arc, calls this morning and this lunch and this an afternoon stroll]

 

[recalls placing baby son into stroller, carting him around the block. Then wearing baby son strapped to chest. First, little round face pointed toward her body, ice cream in a cone, then facing out, legs pumping like a fast-forward cuckoo clock]

 

[admires the sturdy efficiency of toddler’s small body, helps toddler walk out the door and off he goes, toddling. Watches him seek and collect headless dandelions, sticks, rocks]

 

[hears the slap of a basketball meeting asphalt in the neighbor’s backyard, where the visiting-from-college son plays on the scaled-down court his father built for his seventh birthday]

 

[sees her toddler stomp and slowly spin in pollen and tree detritus, exclaiming, “Wheeeee!”]

 

[lets exclamation mark stand, despite apparent dislike of question marks and most periods]

 

[remembers that period has not yet returned since before pregnancy, is fine with this, notes it, brushes the thought away like an eyelash from a cheek]

 

[walks as always with the toddler toward the pine on the corner, crunches brown pine needles and tree parts, toddler reaching for pinecones, bark, ants]

 

[is directed by toddler on walks now, is utterly without hostility about this. He is the compass needle drawn by his own volition, he steers and she clears the path for him, redirects]

 

[tells son, We do not eat rocks, yucky yucky, Let’s not eat dirt, makes us sick, We don’t walk through other people’s grass and yank their flowers from the ground]

 

[knows favverfavverfavver is his way to say flower, pointing, with urgency]

 

[wonders what will he think of her when he is older, imagines him saying to someone across a table, coffee cup almost to his lips, Well my mother was like this, my father was like that…]

 

[knows that there is so much beyond this neighborhood this morning this story, that this cul-de-sac is sacred and privileged and limited, a pouch clasped shut but leaking]

 

[sees dandelions and thinks, weeds]

 

[sees dandelions and thinks, colonists]

 

[sees dandelions and thinks, all flowers are colonists]

 

[sees dandelions and thinks, I am a colonist but I don’t wish to be]

 

[sees dandelions and thinks, colonization and persecution is in my blood, as is being colonized and persecuted]

 

[sees dandelions and thinks, nature is not living metaphor]

 

[to make a metaphor, knows a human is needed]

 

[gives toddler headless flower, just a stem, and looks on as he adds it jubilantly to the three crumpled in his small fist]

 

[believes that each day is the start of a new season, each day a new word, five new words, a new ability, expression, interest]

 

[knows that later she will look out her bedroom window, into the biggest beyond, moon-seeking. As she looks for it every night, while her boy sleeps in his own starstrewn bedroom, while her husband watches a basketball find hands and gravity and halo hundreds of times while the seconds drip down to zero]

 

[lets the moon tell her that there is no start, no ending, just points of light]

 

[thinks to herself Night again already Morning again already]

 

***

 

Hannah Stephenson is a poet and editor living in Columbus, Ohio (where she also runs a literary event series called Paging Columbus). She is the author of Cadence (winner of the 2016 Ohio Chapbook Prize from the Wick Poetry Center), In the Kettle, the Shriek, and is series Co-Editor of New Poetry from the Midwest. Her writing has appeared in The Atlantic, The Huffington Post, 32 Poems, Vela, The Journal, and Poetry Daily. You can visit her online at The Storialist (www.thestorialist.com).
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