Poetry Archive

Fragments on Motherhood in 9 parts

Photo by Lorena Medina on Unsplash



she pushes her kiss into his fleshy cheek, this person who was a part of her, and now breathes outside, each day becoming a new person. how she is expanding through his expansion, how his face is broadening and she can see a big boy coming out of the little baby, who was not long ago a strange alien thing she held in her hands, afraid he would forget to breathe. how she watched him breathe those jagged, sporadic little breaths and imagined those tiny lungs jumping and billowing in fits and starts, and today is 17 months from the time he was cut out of her abdomen and he was startled to see the fluorescent lights, his hand reaching up as it had been in her dream, when she swam and he came upward, and she had wondered why this and not the pushing down, so she had tried to summon down, down, down; but she could only see him dive up as she came up for air; and this is how it was, him being lifted up out of the waters, not down through the canal, her passage remaining intact, though his red-bruised eye was evidence he had, and she had, pushed for 72 hours until it was too-much-blood and too-fast contractions; all of this she did for him and here he was, smiling and forgetting it all; or never having known any of it.


each day he awakens with a new type of sound
shakes a maraca
studies how a muscle works
tries a syllable
each day becoming someone.


I am writing an essay about being a new mother and losing sleep and not having someone else to lullaby and hold and teach the baby and being in the middle of an anti-immigration Trump era that is literally separating my family, how all of that is enough to lose sleep, but how do I organize that.


maybe I should just call it “Trump is separating my family” and get headlines, I could use the wow of it because Cuba is always wow in some way or another, a fascination or a terror to the USA, all its golden era and now its pariah status.


maybe it’s “I can’t get any sleep” and all the reasons in bullet point about why I can’t sleep.


single-motherhood means the time to do each thing is slipped in the narrow cracks between nap and awake, full and hungry, spit up and burping, playing activity 1, 2, 3 and 100.  And lots of kisses.


single-motherhood means working 24 hours a day while also working the job that keeps the roof over your heads and not being able to depend on anyone else for anything.


I am dreaming of a day when I can dream for more than 5 minutes at a time.


I am in dire need of a shower.

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Aimee Suzara is a Filipino-American poet, playwright, and performer whose mission is to create poetic and theatrical work about race, gender, and the body to provoke dialogue and social change. Her first full-length book, SOUVENIR, was released in February 2014 (WordTech Editions) and was a Willa Award Finalist in 2015. Her plays A HISTORY OF THE BODY and TINY FIRES were selected as Finalists for the Bay Area Playwright’s Festival. A HISTORY OF THE BODY was also commissioned by the East Bay Community Foundation and supported by the National Endowment for the Arts.  She has collaborated with Amara Tabor Smith and Deep Waters Dance Theater for the food-justice themed dance theater piece, Our Daily Bread. Her poems appear in numerous journals and anthologies such as Kartika Review, 580 Split, Lantern Review and Walang Hiya: Literature Taking Risks Toward Liberatory Practice, Check the Rhyme: An Anthology of Female Poets and Emcees and Poets (Lit Noire Press) and her chapbooks, the space between and Finding the Bones (Finishing Line Press). She’s been featured as a spoken word artist nationally, including at Stanford, Mt. Holyoke College, Portland State University, University of Miami and UC Santa Cruz.  Suzara received her M.F.A. in Creative Writing at Mills College.  An advocate for the intersection of arts and literacy, she teaches at San Francisco State University and other universities and colleges, is the Spoken Arts Director at Ruth Azawa School of the Arts and leads workshops in poetry and performance for youth and adults. www.aimeesuzara.net