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When we talk about our mothers' bellies - Kate Swisher

When we talk about our mother’s bellies

We lay on our backs by the window in spring,

watching a crystal prism charged by the sun

slowly spin. We watch the rainbow light dance,

onto our bare, warm skin.

& talk about how our mothers once touched

the concaves of their midriffs,

When they were young, like us.

How they liked it when they sucked

their bellies in, liked the dip, the empty puddle,

the cool shadows under their ribs. My mother used to

lean over the rim of a cold, white porcelain bowl,

pausing to collect herself & be alone.

& I never knew that

she hid bruises above her waist,

or that her smooth belly held a child

she never named.

By the window, we wonder,

whether our mothers still love their bellies

As they are now, not how they were once.

We often hear them sigh about what they have lost,

but we never hear them say what they love

Our mothers remember their bellies

before they gave birth. They solemnly say

they will never look the same, besides,

they have too much work to maintain a desirable weight.

So they ask us, their babies, about our bellies.

They ask in many ways about what we have

gained. Some ask directly, and some do not,

& that is always more painful.

By the window, we wonder whether

we love our bellies?

We ask our moms,

Do you still love your bellies?

Because we always hear lose,

but we never hear love.


Kate Swisher is a young writer from San Francisco, California. She recently graduated from Whitman College with a BA in English and creative writing. Her main focus is creative nonfiction but she enjoys experimenting with poetry just as much. In her spare time, she runs a blog called Cat & Sprout where she shares her essays, poems, and songs about mental and environmental health. Kate has previously been published in The Angel City Review and Blue Moon Literary Magazine.


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