Julia Kolchinsky Dasbach


It's not a change, she says, it's a life sentence.
She doesn't ask to touch my stomach.
I have a daughter your age, so I should know,
and then another one chimes in about
wearing a wig because she has no time
for real hair and even when she's on
the toilet, it doesn't change, it's life
the way her two-year-old twin boys
won't leave her side and stare into the aperture
they came from, not knowing birth
wasn't change, but a sentence, for instance
Someone should have the guts to say this,
the first one grabs her coffee, then
No one tells you girls the truth, the second adds
and they both leave. I place my palm
                                                                      where he is
kicking.         Truth: he will be born
in weeks.       I've counted them
in decafs.       How many mothers
                                                               hear this
before they are inevitably
How many know
that at the Nuremburg zoo, a mother
polar bear killed and ate her twin cubs
or that just two hours south of here, a mother
sloth swallowed her first born? The keepers
guessed he came out dead, until two weeks went by
and she did the same to her living second, so
they took the third and nursed him
in a human mother's way. Another truth?
What is survival for a mammal mother—
the rodent, feline, canid, primate
mother? For us? The far more
ruthless animals, hanging our lives
in sentences around another's
growing belly. Call it mercy. Regret
the change, your children
and these sentences.
Indulge in the Icelandic delicacy
of eating a newborn
puffin's heart, forgetting how you flushed
your betta fish down the toilet
for having swallowed
her un-hatched eggs.

Julia Kolchinsky Dasbach emigrated as a Jewish refugee from Dnepropetrovsk, Ukraine when she was six years old. She holds an MFA in Poetry from the University of Oregon and is a Ph.D. student in the University of Pennsylvania's Comparative Literature and Literary Theory program where she focuses on the lyric rendering of trauma in contemporary American poetry related to the Holocaust. Her poetry has appeared in Gulf Coast, TriQuarterly, and Narrative Magazine, among others. She has received fellowships from Bread Loaf, TENT, and the Auschwitz Jewish Center. Julia is the author of The Bear Who Ate the Stars, winner of Split Lip Magazine's 2014 Uppercut Chapbook Award, and the Editor-in-Chief of Construction Magazine.

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