New Mother Readinglisten

Make of Yourself a Light by Hannah Wilson

The poem says the Buddha said
make of yourself a light...
That is all. I am relieved
of the need to be Good,
to be Wise, to be Other.
All I need do is walk ahead
so my children can see
into the dark.

We have been here past an hour,
a book in my hand, the weight
of my son's head warming
the crook of my arm. His mouth,
slack against my breast, breathing
inaudible. On the page,
the poem says the Buddha said
make of yourself a light...

The light has shifted to gray
but I'm anchored, the switch
for the lamps out of reach. Downstairs,
someone is tending a shop. Bagging fruit,
making change. For now, I am absolved
of that kind of work. My job, love.
That is all. I am relieved
of the need to be good.

The need for milk wakens in him.
Eyes closed, he searches
with gums and tongue. Here
is what I want for him. Ease
in his body, buoy for a heart,

splashes of laughter.
To be wise, to be other.
All I need do is walk ahead

the poem says. But I think
next to for a good while,
and later, behind. For now,
I feel milk release, hear the wet
sounds of my son's working throat.
He blinks and squints up at my face
as though it shines for him
through the approaching dark.

Since You Askedlisten

Yes, Darling, it hurt. And don't you believe
for a minute I could forget that kind
of pain. Clutching hard at your father's sleeve,
I burned with it; on my sides and my spine.
I shook with sweat as you went at my bones,
cracking me open with hammer blows.
I squatted, pushed, and let out awful groans.
Years before, I saw Michelangelo's
unfinished statues, those torsos of men
pulling themselves from rough blocks of stone.
Love, in those first few moments that I spent
as your mother, while you flailed and shone,
beautifully formed and finally free,
I tell you, what I felt like was debris.

by Ona Gritz

Ona Gritz's second book for children, Tangerines and Tea: My Grandparents and Me, was named Best Alphabet Book of 2005 by Nick Jr. Family Magazine. Her poetry has been published in numerous anthologies and journals, including Paterson Literary Review, Moment, The American Voice, Poetry East, Literary Mama, Flashquake, Ekphrasis, where she was a finalist for the 2004 Ekphrasis prize, and Tattoo Highway, where she was awarded first prize in poetry in their August 2005 Picture Worth 500 Words contest. Her chapbook of poems, Left Standing, was recently released by Finishing Line Press. Ona is also a columnist for Literary Mama.

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