Friday, 17 August 2018

Other women don't tell you

by Julia Kolchinsky Dasbach

there is shrinking too, once milk and need
are gone, once flood is history
and you remember what it’s like
to sleep again, naked, your hands heavy
against a frame that is more you
now that so little of yourself is left, but wait,
the body isn’t first—that grows or stays
or shifts weight awkwardly
like the aging man you’ve never met
whose loneliness you wear as yours—
first is space, inside your mouth, that list
of things you never thought you’d do
like let your child cry
himself to sleep or fall
when you’re not looking or choose
to look away or mention
breasts so many times
in casual conversation
you’d think that they
were never yours, that space
you never thought to count,
39 plastic balls (the kind you’d seen
in McDonald’s commercials that taught you
English long ago), 23 dirty dishes, 17 bibs
(5 plastic, 12 cloth, and yes, the distinction
matters), 4 piles of laundry (one more
than the people living in your house, so how
is there so much cover for so few bodies?)
2 strollers and 2 car seats and 2 others
whose purpose you are still unsure of,
and 1 you, because there is still you, shrinking
underneath or next to or maybe outside,
looking at your house like a neighbor passing by
who thinks, it sure seems warm inside. 

* * * * *
"Other women don't tell you" was previously published in DIALOGIST. It is part of Julia Kolchinsky Dasbach's book, The Many Names for Mother, which was recently selected by Ellen Bass as the winner of the Stan and Tom Wick Poetry Prize, and will be published by Kent State University Press in the Fall of 2019.

Julia Kolchinsky Dasbach emigrated from Dnepropetrovsk, Ukraine as a Jewish refugee when she was six years old. She holds an MFA in Poetry from the University of Oregon and is a Ph.D. candidate in Comparative Literature at the University of Pennsylvania, where her research focuses on contemporary American poetry about the Holocaust. Julia is the author of The Bear Who Ate the Stars (Split Lip Press, 2014) and her recent poems appear in Best New Poets, American Poetry Review, and Nashville Review, among others. She is also Editor-in-Chief of Construction Magazine ( and when not busy chasing her toddler around the playgrounds of Philadelphia, she writes a blog about motherhood (

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