birth is my mother’s original sin.

mama the first country i left in a flurry of blood,

mother, the first country i called home.

the womb is not eden, or maybe it is:

a garden of dark and buried things.

          in my dreams i am fat as an apple.

          i squat in the field

          behind my childhood home.

          i give birth to a daughter

          i name after myself.

in the morning there is blood

on my sheets, ink on a blank page. who will grant

me penance in my old age? daughter, forgive me

i say into the mirror. there is milk between my thighs.

like the women before me,

i only wanted to grow

a country in my womb.


Jamila Osman is a writer and educator living in Portland, Oregon. Her work has previously appeared in Boaat Press, The Toast, The Establishment, and is forthcoming in Winter Tangerine.