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Birth Mothers
by Lucille Lang Day

They are blond or brunette,
look younger than their years.
Their names are as foreign-
sounding as Edeltraut
or familiar as Sue.

They laugh at the cat
that plays "go fetch" like a dog,
but then their gaze turns on
a faraway place where they watch
something unspeakable.

As decades pass, they clink
wine glasses each night
with the husband who knows
or doesn't know, and they carry
their sorrow like a small stone

hanging from the heart,
until one day the phone rings
and a young woman says,
very softly, "Does July 28th
mean anything to you?"

Or a wedding picture drops
from an envelope, and before
reading the letter, the woman
marvels that the bride
looks just like she did at twenty.

Or she answers the doorbell
one morning, and the young man
standing awkwardly on the porch
has the same green eyes
and smile as her first love.

And when I meet these women,
I always remember green
hospital gowns, an awful sound
and the rings that opened
my cervix wider and wider,

and I whisper names
as offerings to the nameless
child who will never find me.


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