by nature, I have tried, at times,
to hide the fact, head shaved,
black leather armor, practicing
pain in the mirror until I could
bear it and not flinch. yet for all that,
the fact of it remains, decade after
decade, filaments that reach
through my whole being,
wanting to be a good mother, I
tight-rope-walked ever and always
between encouraging self-love
and discouraging selfishness
in my children: human, we are entitled
to life, liberty, and the pursuit of whatever
harms no other. also human, we slip
towards believing we have it coming to us,
the biggest piece of the pie we can wrangle.
genetic, linguistic, artistic
melting pot / salad bowl,
Jewish / Gentile, old-world, new,
an eternal Columbian exchange…
in photographs, the children of friends,
friends themselves, morph over time,
a shifting of external to match internal.
I train myself to use appropriate names, pronouns.
I do this because I love them.
I have carried three to term, lost
two more to miscarriage, and every
time, full as I was with their squirming
and kicking, I celebrated a woman’s
right to choose. we decide to bear
or not to bear. we women.
through the senses, through the
accumulation of days, the accretion
of years, through lived experience,
out in the world, among others,
our inheritance from the brave thinkers
who have preceded us,
who have bucked convention,
often at the risk of life and livelihood,
to deliver unpleasant truths—
species are in decline
the earth is warming
the ice is melting
we are still learning how interconnected we all are
time is running out
Devon Balwit loves her part of the planet and all the words in her language.