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Postpartum

 
 
 
It doesn’t feel holy. The days are jagged and raw, my body

a puffed sack, the nights a ripped-open skin. All sense of order

 

stripped off. The baby teaches me I am not what I thought. Not

patient, not loving, not an endless fount of joy. I’m a spigot. I’m a body

 

holding a body but we’re strangers to each other. I don’t feel

like anyone’s mother. He lifts his head, then drops it down against

 

my collarbone, then screams. I’d thought that motherhood would be

a good machine, a wheel and pulley whooshing out the dark

 

and sinful parts of me, leaving only love for baby’s doughy hands,

his lightbulb toes. I’m the bad one. I’m a sack of rot. When the baby

 

finally sleeps I stand against the doorway weeping. I’d thought

that when the baby came I’d be myself but better. I’m not.
 
 
 

Nancy Reddy is the author of Double Jinx (Milkweed Editions, 2015), a 2014 winner of the National Poetry Series, and the chapbook Acadiana (Black Lawrence Press, 2018). Her poems have appeared or are forthcoming in 32 Poems, Blackbird, The Iowa Review, Smartish Pace, and elsewhere. The recipient of a Walter E. Dakin Fellowship from the Sewanee Writers’ Conference and grants from the New Jersey State Council on the Arts and the Sustainable Arts Foundation, she teaches writing at Stockton University in southern New Jersey.