Reasons I Wouldn’t Be a Good Mother (with a line from Rufi Thorpe)

1. I’m a blue dog skull with a hole drilled in it. 2. Virga snow over a city of tongues. 3. That is, my body is an unsafe home meant only for extremophiles, subspecies of one. 4. Or something like that. 5. Because when I was a child my mother sat on the hood of the car and taught me to throw oranges we couldn’t afford to the gas station ravens. 6. Because what I learned of love I learned from her hands. 7. Pith from rind, citrus and husk. 8. Night’s indigo cloak opens over the mountain city and her bleeding heart drips slag from the welding crews working all through her hours. 9. Because men want women to be mothers and want mothers to have no children. 10. Because I have had to teach myself to daughter and be kind to my body first. 11. Because selfishness is a learned survival trait like cutting things out of the self: self-hatred, desire for male attention, submission. 12. I am profoundly unfree. 13. When I was a child I parted the lips of my pussy in the shallows of Blue Mesa reservoir and looked at my clitoris through water and fish, and already knew what I did not want to make of it. 14. Every baby doll’s hollow clicking plastic head with unsleeping eyes. 15. Everyone’s opinion on this. 16. Because mine matters least. 17. Because the holy mother the man carved out of a tree from the waist up and then claimed she sprung that way—cunt-less—herself. 18. Blood-borne rifles churning through my belly’s church calcifying under lake. 19. People guess they understand why someone wouldn’t want to bring a child into this. 20. Swallows who follow me down the street can’t smell the hands that took their children. 21. Because I could be a mother. 22. With a cracked bowl for a belly and a scream hissing out of her heart. 23. Because I would hate myself and hate her for it. 24. Because I could be good too. 25. Maybe I would take her to see the museum’s chromolithographs of the national parks a hundred years ago, show her the blues and the browns of Yosemite and Sangre de Cristo and Grand Prismatic Spring burned there with acid and water until all that was left on the stone and the paper were the colors the earth once was. 26. Tell her she needs to be river and mud, acid that etches something permanent onto men’s tongues. 27. Perhaps I’d teach us both to drown. 28. Maybe what I’ve really learned to mother inside myself is grieving. 29. Sometimes I look at the street frozen over and start weeping for no good reason at all. 30. Because I harden like milk and soften like graupel. 31. Because sometimes I just want to know that I’m capable of such strength to push a whole world through my pelvis and have it be made of something in me even if I never want the after. 32. Truth is the real genesis story wasn’t a rib but a woman who saw all the other animals exhausted from trying to survive all day and said yeah, me too, and broke off pieces of her bones to give to them so at least they could all share in it. 33. Because I dream that I lower myself in a cage to the bottom floor of an abortion clinic where they cradle my body through its blood and afterward dress me in paper and help me to sleep. 34. That’s not even a poem that’s just the truth. 35. Because mother bone and pearl. 36. Because every sharp thing overflows. 37. Because God’s a pebble in the mouth you suck to make saliva to keep from dying of thirst. 38. That is, even God must fall on his knees and answer if I bring him here before me. 39. That is, even a huntress who helped her mother birth must stop at a bar at the end of the day. 40. I nurse with such blood. 41. But hush, still: I take you in my jaws; I gentle you with tongue. 42. I will teach each thing I birth to know its way out, to make its escape. 43. When there is no escape be like water—what makes an escape fast enough to make a canyon or a chamber, heart or bullet. 44. I mean make a way out that keeps you alive. 45. I mean to raise each thing against my belly to kill.

Kelly Weber is the author of the forthcoming chapbook The Dodo Heart Museum: A Fabulist Curiosity Cabinet (Dancing Girl Press, 2020), and her work has appeared or is forthcoming in Tupelo Quarterly, DIAGRAM, Cream City Review, Permafrost, Ruminate, and elsewhere. She has been a finalist for the Frontier Chapbook Prize and Two Sylvias Chapbook Prize and has been longlisted for the [PANK] Book Contest, and her work has received nominations for the Pushcart Prize. She holds an MFA from Colorado State University. More of her work can be found at