Pantoum for Postpartum

I birth a child, and the wet wound never closes.
My mother diagnoses postpartum casually
as if saying – mail is here, and your name is on it.
Explains the drilling is nothing I asked for, overripe nerves happen sometimes. 

My mother announces my postpartum casually,
says in her day, black women ain’t name the rusted death.
I did not ask for the drilling. Postpartum makes for overripe nerves,
takes it claws and plucks the mama up out of you.

In my mother’s day, black women ain’t announce the blood rust. 
Lord willing, the death passed before anyone else could see.
Postpartum takes its claws and plucks the mama up outta you
and if you ain’t careful, the baby dry rots too.

Lord willing, the wet rust vanishes before anyone else can see it.
If not, your voice is a snatched wisp of air and
if you ain’t careful, the baby disappears too.
Mama just means keeping someone else alive

even if your voice is a snatched wisp of air,
as if saying – mail is here, and your name is on it.
Mama only means keeping someone else alive.
I birth a child, and the wet wound never closes.

—Brittany Rogers (from Tinderbox Poetry Journal)