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I am the living mother

            holding out for 24-hour grain of rice

swaddled before hemorrhage; 24-hour spent

pregnancy test in the trash, cancelled dinner reservation.

The living mother

            bleeding out into cotton, shedding walls

into the toilet. I don’t look

when I flush. Turn my face to my sleeve.

Living mother,

            Wipe the red

off my nails, replace red on my toes. Cannot

stop twisting the phone cord; never dial.


            not the dead mother. Does not paint

the bathroom black. Keeps the curtains open

for neighbors to know there is nothing to see here.

Erin Kae graduated from SUNY Geneseo in 2015 with a B.A. in English (Creative Writing). Her poetry has been or will be featured in Sonora Review, Crab Fat Magazine, and Fugue, among others. She was recently nominated for the Pushcart Prize by Aster(ix) Journal, and was selected as a finalist for the 2017 Locked Horn Press Publication Prize for their Read: Water anthology. She currently resides outside Boston, Massachusetts, where she hopes to pursue a career writing children’s literature.

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