To mother

Threaded through, fastened together:
with a needle, a safety pin, stitches
that fused the dried and severed knots
once tethering me to each child
that emerged, solid and distinct,
already resisting. Even then,
the lessons of unmooring— I sank
into an exhausted sleep, thighs slick
and unwashed, not knowing whose
hands whisked them away to be cleaned
and weighed, dropped into a labeled
bassinet. Now they are grown or mostly
grown, their mouths saying no or yes
or later, help me, I want, I don’t
know what to do. Out in the yard
raking, I’ve often paused to consider
the endlessness of labor, how there
is always more before the residues
have been used up or gathered. How my
hands can never be enough to contain
what won’t let itself be contained;
and friends say let it be, let it
just compost back into the soil.

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