I went looking for something today, and I found it, pressed between violet footprints of my firstborn, my college diploma, a piano recital etched in calligraphy, the receipt for retro fabric still awaiting needle and thread, a googly-eyed puppet, a tulip bulb catalog, photos of me at four fishing with my dad, a stack of latin root flashcards, an article on Isaiah, an old gym workout, and a love letter from Hugh scrawled on the back of a piece of toilet paper, I’m not kidding either and please don’t call me messy, I prefer creative-
I found it, all 9 pages of it, the title spare and still intact on the page, still printed on tiniest heart of my matryoshka doll hearts.
Surrendering to Motherhood: My unpublished manuscript, 2001. I know, fanciful thinking, you say, and you’re probably right though I still held these old papers like childhood friends and opened to the first page on which there is a single poem, the same poem that when first read made the inside of my tiniest tenderest matryoshka heart quiver with rejoicing and resistance. The same poem I breathe in slowly, then out, then in again, as I answer curious onlookers about my choice to mother my children as I do. So I share it here with those who love poetry, and if you do not, my sincerest pity.
I Stop Writing the Poem
by Tess Gallagher
to fold the clothes. No matter who lives
or who dies, I’m still a woman.
I’ll always have plenty to do.
I bring the arms of his shirt
together. Nothing can stop
our tenderness. I’ll get back
to the poem. I’ll get back to being
a woman. But for now
there’s a shirt, a giant shirt
in my hands, and somewhere a small girl
standing next to her mother
watching to see how it’s done.