Motherhood Divides a Woman in Half
Where one part is snow on the forest floor, shadow shape
of the crescent moon, leaf fall and beetle scurry, the night
calling with a voice lean as the wolf, still puddle full of cloud.
Here I live alone with fire, search the dung heaps left by the elk,
scratch poems in the mud with a torn branch mottled with frost.
This part I’ve never been able to follow to its end—the way
of the earth’s deep musk, the way of the fragrant berry.
I always turn back and take up the mantle of the other,
the one who sits vigil in the room while my daughter sleeps,
where I am sentry, lifeguard, loon, riding the water with my daughter
clinging, through waves that send their pulses to the edge of the shore,
where I paw at the water, where I paddle our bodies so that we stay afloat,
where the only silence is underwater, where solitude is a looming tangle
of forest always a distance ahead, lit by hunger, by sun.
Meghan Sterling’s work was nominated for four Pushcart Prizes and she published the poetry collection These Few Seeds (Terrapin Books) in 2021. Her chapbook Self-Portrait with Ghosts of the Diaspora (Harbor Editions) is forthcoming in 2023. Her collection View from a Borrowed Field won Lily Poetry Review’s Paul Nemser Book Prize and is forthcoming in 2023.