Two Poems

Poetry /Julia Kolchinsky Dasbach

:: Week 9: Grape ::

louse: the singular form 
of lice, small, wingless, 
you’d never heard of
because you never find 
just one like the note 
from your son’s school
saying one girl has them
& she’s been treated & you 
should check every tangle 
of your son’s curls to make sure 
some haven’t found their way 
inside & another mother 
says she’d buzz it all off 
just to be safe, says he’s a boy 
so he’ll look tougher anyway 
& you recall how you 
were three then too 
when your parents nearly 
shaved you & the other kids 
wouldn’t share the bench, would 
run away & yell & point, 
would laugh how you were infected
& dirty & a louse, ruined 
—Jewish—so you’ll refuse
to cut his hair & scour
each perfect ringlet, twist
their multitudes around your fingers
& when you find
only more locks, you’ll tell him
to sit with Evelyn tomorrow,
to remind her 
she is beautiful & loved

:: Week 33: Pineapple ::

Every time she turns her head 
between your ilium & coxal bones, 
you feel your water 
about to break, afraid 
of that balloon-pop 
in your pelvis, afraid 
break is wholly wrong 
for what shifts or tears, slips 
& loosens. Bones break. 
Hearts, maybe. But the veil 
between your body’s end
& her beginning? There’s 
no breaking it. Looks like that baby
is about to fall 	      right out of you, 
the women call, holding 
tight to what’s already fallen 
from inside of them. Fall too, 
wholly wrong for the way 
a body enters breathing. 
Rain falls. Fruits from trees. 
But body from body? 
There must be more 
to describe such cleaving. 
Directionless & unfinished.   
I’m gonna report you 
to the grocery store, a man 
yells passing, you stole
one of their watermelons.  
How easy to be 
so wrong in naming 
what you’ve never carried. 
She is not a vine-trailing
scrambler yet, spreading 
as she clings to soil. For now,
she’s still reaching for the sun
atop a tall palm, still 
hardening, bones in her skull 
just starting to overlap, preparing
for descent, She’s only 
a pineapple, you correct him, 
& keep on walking, one 
slow bone in front 
of the other, unsure 
which one of you 
is going where or how
to name your joined, 
persistent motion.   

From the writer


:: Account ::

These poems come from a book-length man­u­script, 40 WEEKS (YesYes Books, 2023) in which I wrote a poem for each week of preg­nan­cy with my sec­ond child, play­ing with the fruits and veg­eta­bles the babys size is com­pared to in the week­ly emails those who are expect­ing can sign up to receive. While at times I take inspi­ra­tion from the objects them­selves, the poems aim to high­light the prob­lem­at­ic aspects of such comparisons—the way they gen­der and objec­ti­fy what is grow­ing inside—and focus instead on soci­etal taboos of the preg­nant body and our con­tin­ued cul­tur­al mis­rep­re­sen­ta­tion of and dis­com­fort with the expe­ri­ence of the more unfil­tered sides of moth­er­hood. These poems embrace the bare and grotesque, look­ing at what is often looked away from with­out shame, or at least ques­tion­ing why there is shame attached to the look­ing. They are also very much try­ing to fig­ure out how to con­tin­ue to moth­er my neu­ro­di­ver­gent old­er child, who is on the spec­trum, while preg­nant with my daugh­ter. In writ­ing a poem each week that con­nect­ed my expe­ri­ence of moth­er­hood and preg­nan­cy, I was able to stay con­nect­ed to my iden­ti­ties as a moth­er and writer, feel­ing that one was feed­ing the oth­er. I was a bet­ter moth­er because I was able to write, and I was a bet­ter writer because I was draw­ing on my vivid and vis­cer­al expe­ri­ence of moth­er­hood. I did not have to choose one, but rather, could be both, and for me, there is no oth­er way of being in the world. I am always nav­i­gat­ing space and inter­ac­tions as a moth­er, mul­ti­task­ing by simul­ta­ne­ous­ly try­ing to cap­ture the sto­ries and lyric moments all around memade more urgent and singing loud­er because of my chil­dren. 

Julia Kolchin­sky Das­bach ( emi­grat­ed from Dnipro, Ukraine as a Jew­ish refugee when she was six. She is the author of three poet­ry col­lec­tions: The Many Names for Moth­er (Kent State Uni­ver­si­ty Press, 2019); Don’t Touch the Bones (Lost Horse Press, 2020); and 40 WEEKS, forth­com­ing from YesYes Books in Feb­ru­ary, 2023. Her recent poems appear in POETRY, Ploughshares, Amer­i­can Poet­ry Review, and AGNI, among oth­ers. She holds an MFA from the Uni­ver­si­ty of Ore­gon and a Ph.D. in Com­par­a­tive Lit­er­a­ture and Lit­er­ary The­o­ry from the Uni­ver­si­ty of Penn­syl­va­nia. Her dis­ser­ta­tion, Lyric Wit­ness: Inter­gen­er­a­tional (Re)collection of the Holo­caust in Con­tem­po­rary Amer­i­can Poet­ry, pays par­tic­u­lar atten­tion to the under­rep­re­sent­ed atroc­i­ty in the for­mer Sovi­et ter­ri­to­ries. Julia is the author of the mod­el poem for “Dear Ukraine”: A Glob­al Com­mu­ni­ty Poem She is the Mur­phy Vis­it­ing Fel­low in Poet­ry at Hen­drix Col­lege and lives in Lit­tle Rock, Arkansas with her family.