The New Mother, In California Before the End Times

After the rain, how good it is to walk out and feel
the sun on your shoulders! The baby in her stroller

chattering in protest, then asleep. The grey-green olive trees
shine wetly, the silver-grey eucalyptus trees are a scent

you walk through on Mills Avenue carrying with you the knowledge
that around the corner is a tree with a hundred figs

just beginning to ripen. How good to be somewhere still
new to you, to crunch fried sardines in the Filipino supermarket

on a good day, a day when you did not say that terrible thing
to your sister, when you did not stand where a great sharp palm frond

fell with a crash, when you did not show up late for your own
public talk. You have hung the hammock that you bought

in Mexico ten years ago, the one you’ve been carrying in a box
from one rented apartment to the next, from state to state to state—

you have taken it from the box and thrown the box away
and hung the hammock up with some strange bright orange

nylon tie-down straps you found at the hardware store, and it looks
pretty stupid, honestly, but when you lie in it you can still see

the insanely blue sky and the edge of that fig tree. It is not yet that time
when you will be afraid to let your husband, a citizen, leave the country,

when irrational fears will become reasonable ones. You haven’t yet begun
to consider the risks and benefits of certain ordinary acts, certain statements.

The baby’s teeth not yet emerged from her gums, the air sweet on your two bodies. Today you think, briefly, that you might be just the person to give yourself

advice on how to live, though you are under-qualified at best, and at worst
you might be giving yourself some kind of carpal tunnel, holding the baby

at that odd angle all the time, clutching at something else with your free hand.

 

by Chloe Martinez

 

Chloe Martinez.jpgChloe Martinez lives with her husband and two daughters in Claremont, CA, where she teaches on the religions of South Asia at Claremont McKenna College. A graduate of Boston University’s Creative Writing MA and the MFA for Writers at Warren Wilson College, her poetry has appeared in Waxwing (forthcoming), The Normal School, The Cortland Review, The Collagist, Crab Orchard Review and elsewhere, and has been nominated for a Pushcart Prize. She is at work on a scholarly monograph and seeking a publisher for her first poetry collection.

Author photo by Jamel Velji.

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