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The birds: A poem

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MARCH 18, 2023


I have nightmares of being a mother at 7 years old,

Of expanding like a bloated frog

And constantly cradling another in an 

Oasis of bodily fluid

I never understood why expecting mothers 

Looked forward

To their due dates.



When I tell my mother I have been crying over a girl, she accepts this but

Tells me I must give her grandchildren,

The wicked

Motherly instinct pressed between my heart and the skin of my chest

Sprouting a green flower with all the

Water running out through my fingertips

To nurture the clamoring weeds. 


It is Halloween night in my senior year of high school, and

I am to accept it when he calls me a cheap whore because I wore fishnets

I am to drive him to a party that night

I am to worry for him when he drinks too much

I am to scramble through cabinets for a spare cup, fill it

With tap water,

Hold his hand for the rest of the night.



The water running out through my fingertips does not cease.

I am a waterfall 

And this is humiliating.

I am sparkling, shivering ripples, salamander chic, speaking soothingly, 

Speaking when

I shouldn’t; 

Frothing white and splashing,

Soaked to the bone.

I am

Healing wildly,

The water running out through my fingertips

Has a paper cut aftertaste—

Never get too close.



He got too close, but all I can think about are 

The birds. 

I wish the world would see me the way the birds do:

A moving monolith of dignified wonder,

colors and shapes,

At times peaceful, at times feverish, overarchingly loving.



My mother doesn’t like it when people take advantage of me.

She makes me look her in the eye when she says this,

The whole world melting around the heat in her voice.

I never know what to say back.


I know I am seen and not heard. I know when I say the 

Same story three times and he still does not remember

That I am just a little girl.


I want to ask my mother if she feels like me too.


Instead, I capsize.

What escapes me:

“People don’t take advantage of me.”



When I tell my mother I am not a woman,

She is hurt because what makes her a woman is me. 

Contact Mia Soumbasakis at 


APRIL 06, 2023