Ann Weil
​Image by Jan Canty on Unsplash                                                                                                  
Ann Weil is a writer and educator from Ann Arbor, Michigan. Her work can be read or is forthcoming in Third WednesdayHeron TreeClementine UnboundThe Healing MuseHalfway Down the StairsThimble Literary Magazine, and numerous other publications.
The Skin of a Mother

is not taut, like a clothesline drying diapers in the sun. It’s not easy to wear, like sweat pants, 
not weather-proof, like the Chewbacca costume we made for a frigid Halloween. The skin of a mother is not returnable, like that too-low-cut Homecoming dress and the four-inch heels; it’s not discardable, like the red plastic cups on your dormitory lawn. 

The skin of a mother is a straightjacket. No one tells you this, but you’ll see. After the initiation rites comes the swaddling. The whole world shrunk to one room, one woman with the power of God. At first, so snug and safe— you love it. Then, like a blood pressure cuff, the squeezes start to hurt, you can’t catch your breath. Your heart is a battering ram, your chest demands more air, you are desperate to run, the light flickers. The stars emerge and you long to join their brightness. You almost do. But a small cry crawls its way through your eardrum into your brain, and you know you cannot leave because your child needs you more than the light. You let go the breath you’ve been holding since this whole thing began, giving room to your limbs, space to your spine. You wriggle and squirm like a moth shedding its cocoon. You reach with grasping arms for that bawling life and begin again, if only until the nine p.m. show.


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