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Emma Brigham Sep 2020
My daughter was born at 4:34 am,
the same minute I was born
26 years,
one month,
and 26 days before.
I felt the warm, slippery crown of her skull
with my fingers
in the last moments we were one being,
and then she spilled out of me
the way something spills from a can
when the suction is broken.
She did not cry,
did not make one small sound,
but her arms flew to the air,
and I thought,
how wonderful it would be if we could all remember
that first instance of ecstatic release
having only known darkness,
a folded existence.
She was handed to me
like a tea set wrapped in a sweatshirt,
mindfully, delicately,
and her placement in my arms
came with the recognition
that my life now had a before
and an after.
There was no rush of love,
as they say,
just the momentous peace
in having met this stranger
who I had loved without knowing
from the moment she left her father
in frantic search
of her biological counterpart,
her soul joining itself.

I remember tiptoeing downstairs
at 8 years old
and watching Titanic with my parents
when I couldn’t sleep.
I remember
the acrid taste of the popcorn
that I left in the microwave too long,
the cocoon of my parents love
and our old green sofa.
And yet the details of my daughter’s birth,
the hours of exquisite pain
and visceral longing,
my memory has failed to keep.
My heart remembers
what my brain does not.
My body holds the blood memory of her.
Emma Brigham Sep 2020
There is a list of things I know I will forget.
The list is ever growing.
The list is endless.
The size and shape of her finger nails,
the pillowiness of the tops of  her feet.
How she looks up at me from a tangle of blankets
as I kiss my hand and bring it to her forehead,
repeating the phrase, I love you,
despite its inadequacy.
The way she appraises every stone in the gravel driveway
as if it were a planet of its own.
A trip we took to the beach
when she ran her fingers through sand for the first time.
So many first times.

If I weren’t her mother
I would choose to be the wrinkle in her elbow
or the gap between her teeth.
I would settle for a bird
that crosses the sky above her, igniting
if only for the briefest of moments,
something like pure wonder.

What I will remember is the endless love.
My daughter will not stop growing up, help me
Emma Brigham Feb 2019
In her purple snowsuit, a child kneels in a foot of fresh powder,
carefully shaping a snowball in her purple mittened hands.  
See the world through her eyes.
Each snowflake a white dream.
Tucked inside a snow globe,
atop a frozen cotton blanket
neatly placed on the lawn while you were asleep,
embedded with microscopic diamonds
that disappear when you single them out with curious eyes.  
It is important that you get the shape of the snowball right,
so take your time
and mold it between your palms like a ball of clay.  
It is important
because the snowball can be anything you want it to be,
like the embryo of a snowman.  
Ammo to use in a long anticipated battle
or the start of a fortress.  
A snow cone, if you can sneak maple syrup from inside.  
Branches hang low with their sacred white burden.  
The world has become black and white.
And then a cardinal dips into view.  
Dashing above a white sea
towards the comfort of an unseen nest,
nearby perhaps, or miles distant.
For a moment
the only color you know is red
and nothing was ever so beautiful.  
The world is endless beauty.
Emma Brigham Jan 2019
In the spaces between, I love you best.
The vastness between particles, the distances.

What a gift it would be to unlearn time
as it drips slowly from a broken faucet.
This morning I performed the ritual of your 4am diaper change
and when you smiled up at me
I thought of a garden growing inside of you,
the bloom of a hundred crocuses and lupines and marigolds
and the twisting of Swedish vines
and tomatoes beginning to turn red.
Someday I will make your bed with fresh sheets
when you come home for Thanksgiving,
I will stock our fridge with your favorite foods
and make sure the house is clean.
I will try to be the perfect hostess for you
like I once was.
My moon and back.
Emma Brigham Jan 2019
I didn't know you were unhappy.
when the dishes sat drying in their rack
and the baby fell asleep,
like the rats neglected in their cage
I overlooked it.
Wrapped in weighted folds
of sleep deprivation,
headlights not yet through the fog.
Emma Brigham Sep 2018
One month from today could be
your birthday.
In one month we could meet each other
for the first time.
Maybe in one month
I will be on all fours like an animal
and I’ll scream you into the world
and you’ll stop being just a dream.
You are a product of me,
within me.
You are mine
You are not mine
You will always be mine.
Through ripened flesh
and viscera you will unfold,
purple and milky,
bursting through a darkness,
limbs released into your father’s arms,
squeezed and wrinkled,
bright with pain,
having to relearn what it means
to be alive.
Emma Brigham Aug 2018
Strangers at the bar
I polish glasses with care
No one knows my name
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