Motherhood: A Map

You are here: abject, bereft, clear (all-seeing, also 
see-through); disheveled. Euphoric, enervated, flushed, faint, 
fierce, and also, generous, gushing milk and patience, 
goddess-like, even while grieving—what?—your good, distant self. 
Heavy, heaving. Helper; holder of hands or heads. 
You’ll appear, to some idiots, indignant, indigent, icky. 

You’ll ignore cries, which is not to say you won’t hear them, 
no, your rabbit ears will make you jumpy, jealous 
of the free world. Animaled, you’ll grow keen, willing
to kill, almost, kept in the kennel of loving a small helpless thing
so helplessly that you’d carry your cub, kindred, kinder
through the streets in your very teeth. Kidded: a dual citizen,

luscious and landbound i.e. mother i.e. never not. 
Owned. Overcommitted, overwhelmed, overcome. 
Proud, put-upon, pissed off. Playful, prodding, plotting, quiet. 
Quaint. Queer. Really reduced, repetitive, regulated 
by needs not your own. And yeah, radiant sometimes. Smitten, 
sticky. Sated, stressed. Saintly, severe. Tired, tired, 

tired, tired, tired, texting too much, teary, your best friend 
far away on the other end of the line, she’s been through 
the trial by fire too, and you’d like to call yourselves
triumphant but there’s no real teleology here. You’re upside down,
underneath, undone. Vexed, vague, various. You are a we,
wived, weaponized, wizened, undeniably witchy.

Wondrous. Aren’t you exhausted, being always on exhibit, 
extra-human, exiled? Yawn, yowl, yelp. And yet.
Zip up, zone out, zero in, yes, you’re zonked but you’re also
the ziggurat, juggernaut, zero-sum zigzag. You vibrate,
turn Zohar, azure, zenith. Magicked, you toss missives 
through the hedges of yourself: amazed, a maze.

Chloe Martinez is a poet and scholar of South Asian religions. She is the author of Corner Shrine (Backbone Press, 2020), which won the 2019 Backbone Press Chapbook Competition, and Ten Thousand Selves (The Word Works, forthcoming 2021). Her poems appear or are forthcoming in Ploughshares, Waxwing, The Common, and elsewhere. She teaches at Claremont McKenna College.