Pastoral: Mostly you are worried about my children.

But I was fucked to make these children—
they came from fuck, from the way my o
opened and hugged in R’s semen in a frothy late summer slick of mucus.
The first baby came from how I wanted a baby
but the second and third came from how I wanted a fuck.
The babies were nice, too,
and I slathered them in my milk
for years on end in bed,
which is another kind of love fluid,
and just as close.
Remember this.
And believe me, I’m a kinder mother
when my bottom is bruised from the smart round clap
of M’s open hand.
I’m nicer after.
I’m happier picking up from school
when wearing his high school football jacket and feeling really owned.
I own you, he said that morning, as he held me by the throat
and pushed into me as I squirmed toward and dug down.
This made me more cheerful when later I passed out
Cheddar Bunnies and poured raw milk into sippy cups.
When I made dinner while he played with them
the game they love for him to play,
little plastic dinosaurs going on field trips.
Believe me.
Or you know what? Don’t.
Just watch them grow.
They are more innocent than most their age,
run laughing screaming naked not-knowing like Eden
around the upstairs rooms each night,
have never heard curse words,
have no shame in their bodies,
talk constantly about love.
What I want for them, now and later,
is their hands on their own pleasure,
their hearts in their own power.
I hope they love as many as they want, with love gushing back.
That they fuck healthfully whom they choose.
That they will be able to say,
We grew up in a warm house
with lots of open window talking about hard things,
with lots of grown-ups who were loved fully and loved us truly
and we felt safe.
There were pillows and books and a woodstove.
We felt abundance, all ways.
We felt our mother was a full being
who lived thoughtfully and lived as she pleased.


Arielle Greenberg’s most recent books are Slice and Locally Made Panties. She is co-author, with Rachel Zucker, of Home/Birth: A Poemic, and co-editor of three anthologies: most recently, with Lara Glenum and Becca Klaver, Electric Gurlesque. Arielle writes a column on contemporary poetics for the American Poetry Review, edits the series (K)ink: Writing While Deviant for The Rumpus, and lives in Maine, where she teaches in the community and in Oregon State University-Cascades’ MFA.