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To be a mother in this economy

By Erin Hoover

My child babies a squeeze bottle of craft glue
                or a lipstick tube filched from my purse.
She yanks a tissue from our coffee table

and spreads it out in the air, covers the baby,
              then balls up a second tissue to fluff
under its pretend head. They’re all over the carpet,

babies. I want to help, but she motions me to go,
              shushes me.  I find them everywhere,
rock baby, Matchbox baby, soapy baby

barrel of blow-bubbles. Sometimes
              she’ll let me tuck her babies into our bed,
where they slumber alongside us, when I can,

when I’m with her. But I’m not always home,
            department store suit creased
into my luggage, phone jacked into an airport

wall, all those hotel stays hopeful for the job
             on the horizon, my baby in the care
of a friend. Sometimes the job came and we moved,

and my child learned to make friends and lose them,
             to shape her body to different earth
for a time, then say goodbye. I’m with her now,

I’m here, but I wonder if my absence lives inside
             her, if the babies are about that,
they are everything to her, these beloveds,

until she walks away.



Listen as Erin Hoover reads "To be a mother in this economy".

Added: Wednesday, June 22, 2022  /  Used with permission.
Erin Hoover
Photo by Keistyn Steward.

Erin Hoover is the author of Barnburner, winner of Elixir Press’s Antivenom Poetry Award and a Florida Book Award in Poetry. Her second collection of poetry is No Spare People (Black Lawrence Press, 2023).  Hoover teaches poetry as an assistant professor at Tennessee Tech University. To learn more, visit Erin's website.

Image Description: Erin Hoover is seated in front of a white background with her arms crossed and elbows resting on a white chair. She wears a black and white striped v-neck shirt with short sleeves. Erin faces forward and looks directly at the viewer. 

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