First Mother

by Jennifer Bullis

Having birthed, my womb is still
full of creatures. My first son
names them and names them, and calls
forth another with each new naming.

Cuttlefish, Scouler’s willow, Przewalski’s horse,
hummingbirds with the appellations purple-throated
and white-bellied mountaingem
I open myself and release them into life again

and again. The body of my first daughter only seems
to perish of desire. Like me, my second daughter
mothers and mothers, and sometimes
disappears into her mothering.

My second son parcels himself
into tongues, graphemes, glyphs.
That one is all talk and all silence,
all of it true. He goes on and on.

My word, how he tugs
on his umbilical cord.
Not even up here,
assumed, am I untethered.

JENNIFER BULLIS is the author of Impossible Lessons (MoonPath Press). Recent work appears in Cave WallCherry TreeTerrainVerse Daily, and (forthcoming) Indiana Review. She is recipient of an Artsmith Residency fellowship, Pushcart and Best New Poets nominations, and honorable mention for the Gulf Coast Prize. Her full-length manuscripts have been finalists for the Brittingham & Pollak Prizes and the Moon City Poetry Award.

Featured Image: Illustration for “In the Dying Light We Saw a Shape” by galen dara, used with permission.