Three thirty in the morning
She sat up in bed
Wearing the nightgown with holes
Mechanical pump on her breast
Staring out over the backyard

Her mind told her “Your life is over.
What’s the point?
You’re a mess.
Existentially, you’re going to raise this girl and educate her
For what?
To one day feel like this.
Like her life is only for her daughter
God, you’re a shitty person.
This was all you ever wanted.
So malcontent.
So ungrateful.
Don’t you have the decency to feel guilty that you are such
A. Bad. Mother?
They’d be better off without you.
The life insurance would be more useful than you are right now.
You can’t even have sex yet.
Body broken
A desiccated flower trodden underfoot on a sidewalk
Never to be whole
You’ll never feel pleasure again.
Your body belongs to the baby.”

Nothing was more exhausting than this conversation with herself.

She switched the pump to the other breast
And smoothed the hair on the angelic baby next to her.

This glimmer crossed her mind:
“If I died, I wouldn’t be able to taste strawberries again.”
This one thought, a tether
A rope to the hope
Of ripeness
Of sweetness
Of summer
And as the tears rolled down her face, she talked back to her mind.
“We’ll see. I’m gonna hang around one more day.”

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About the Author

Jessica Neno Cloud was born and raised in Mobile, AL and now resides in Hartsville, SC with her husband Daniel and her two children. She earned her M.A. in English literature at The University of Southern Mississippi. Her poetry can be found online in eMerge magazine, the TEJASCOVIDO project and the online journal Former People. In print, her poem “After the Bath” appeared in Constellations magazine in 2019 and the poem “Stockpile the Sun” was published in the Langdon Review: TEJASCOVIDO in 2020.

Jessica Cloud
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