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Published: Wed Jul 1 2015
Art by Jin Suk
The Sadness of Young Mothers

Because we’re at the beach today our sadness
knows itself,

Between the sinking sand and slowly measured
falling waves.

Not long ago time was arrow-tipped and
ravenous.

It found its mark before the god of love had
even stirred.

It filled our bones to bursting, era of the second
self begun.

Now every gesture mirrors gestures of a
smaller one.

They raise their arms, we raise our arms, they wobble
toward the sea

Like turtle hatchlings, thoughtless prey, and
so do we.

We match the steps of half-formed beings—
tender, new—

Ourselves, our future selves, alive but always
cut in two.

We are afraid. The burning sun devours
little bones.

Their little mouths will gulp the tangled weed, the
sliding foam.

We run, we start to run, but time has a thickness
all its own,

And half of half of half is motion’s rule or
none at all,

As when the cresting tops of glittering breakers
do not fall,

Or when in dreams we hear, but do not hear, our
children call.

Richard D’Abate is the author of the poetry collection To Keep the House From Falling In (Ithaca House Press, 1973). His stories and poems have appeared in Epoch, Apple, AGNI, Presumpscot, and elsewhere. A former executive director of the Maine Historical Society, his essays on the legacy of European exploration have appeared in various collections, including American Beginnings (University of Nebraska Press, 1993). He lives in Wells, Maine. (updated 10/2017)

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