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Unterberg Poetry Center

“Thou art thy mother’s glass and she in thee”—Sonnet III, William Shakespeare

They say, bless the mother.
I say, don’t believe in a world
of justice. You will be disappointed.

Unbless me. Everyone hush and attend
for the tick-tocking in her, daughter,
and the gold of a shriek we all pause for, listening

with earless lobes; goldfish caught
in our freshwater heads.
The doctors haven’t diagnosed this yet.

They too are uneared by the blueness of birth
when the baby doesn’t cry: no red
inhale. Am I, is she unblessed?


Later, when I have been split
and stiched together, belly burning,
they say, You are the mother glass. And I say,

I can’t be the mother glass she sees herself in.
I’ve lost my image.
There’s no posterity in me. Or windows.

I know I’ll be charmed by all her charms,
beguiled by her beguilement, but:
Split my reflection? Share a face? Can’t, won’t—
be a screen, participate in this hall of mirrors. Will I?


Inanimate objects once ruled my life—
now discard photo, learn to embrace

body and face, mine, hers,
Mothering is a sort of swallowing
and a sort of being swallowed.

Daughters require cities the size of Olympus.

Alissa Heyman is a freelance writer and editor who received her MFA in poetry at Sarah Lawrence College. She edited the poetry anthology The Best Poems of the English Language (Mud Puddle Books), and is the author of several children’s books, including Twelve Dancing Unicorns, illustrated by Justin Gerard (Sterling Publishing). She curated a monthly poetry reading series at the Cornelia Street Café for seven years, and her poems have appeared in Lyric, St. Petersburg Review, Storyscape, Quarto and Jewish Journal, among others. She lives in New York City with her husband and young daughter.