“The New Mother” – Poetry by Judith Skillman

from The Creation of Adam - Michelangelo, c. 1512
from The Creation of Adam – Michelangelo, c. 1512

“It’s like a finger always touching you,” writes Judith Skillman in her poem “The New Mother.” It’s just one of several pieces in our Summer 2014 issue that wrestles with the anxiety of motherhood, and it dwells somewhere along the blurred edges between mundane suburban reality and the uncanny surrealism of  subconsciousness. 

{ X }

on those lovely arms.  How is he, we ask,
passing, nostalgia welling up
for our lost chunky ones.  She stands
and smokes, steeped in her hair,
her face, her jeans.  He’s good, his Dad
came home late and took him for a walk.
The secret’s out, she can’t put it back
but she does. I’m fine until 5 but after that,
well, it’s like always being touched,

I can’t even pee without—
We interrupt, our late middle-aged laughter
gnawing at what’s left of September summer.
I remember, I say, I was always ready to—
looking sidewise at a man
I barely remember marrying.
Glancing up at the loveliness of her,
all the elements of home lit
by the kitchen beyond, its canisters
where mystery blends and foments.

I’m fine until 5, she repeats, her faint smile
like the day moon, and we turn away,
see the father heading downhill, the stroller
and blanketed cargo, its selvages
burning like skin meant to be taken
and taken again.  That night
we make love until we fall back,
old in faded blue sheets,
sated with too much—like a finger always
touching you she said, it’s like that.

{ X }

JudithSkillmanJUDITH SKILLMAN is the author of fifteen books of poetry. Her work has appeared in Poetry, The Iowa Review, Northwest Review, Midwest Quarterly Review, Southern Review, and Prairie Schooner. Visit her website at JudithSkillman.com

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s