When my magic runs dry
Pale yellow liquid drips
around her tiny perfect lips—
I barely feel the suction anymore.
Have my nipples numbed? I don’t know.
My body knows what she needs
even when my mind starts counting
the minutes until I can have a break,
create some space around me.
Her tummy touches my tummy,
her hot little hands clutch and scratch
my arm. I need to trim her fingernails.
My son needs more hugs than he knows
how to ask for. I read him books aloud
as an excuse to pull him close. His body
doesn’t need my body with an infant’s insistence,
but his body still needs its mother near,
nurturing, noticing, ruffling his hair, draping
an arm across his shoulders. I am tired
of the touch needed by three children.
Studies show their brains would never
be the same if I withheld from them
my body. They pounce and pull, they curl
and kick. They block my path until I pick
them up, surround their body with warm flesh.
Rest. I need it. I forget myself. I need
to remember to be a good neighbor
to myself. When my magic has run dry
I run to the ocean and beg her to rub
her emeralds all over me. Underwater, I hold
my breath, suspend movement, let my body be
held. Sunlight streams through green
water, wiggling gold ribbons, silent lightning
that stays and sways. I kick kick kick
back to the surface, tilt my face up, open
my lungs and drink the sun.
Crystal Ellefsen is a writer and entrepreneur in San Diego, California. Her poems and short stories have been published in Calyx, Quiddity, Literary Mama, Word Riot, and more. While an undergraduate at UCSB, she won the Ina Coolbrith Memorial Prize in Poetry and was a finalist for the University of California Poet Laureate. Learn more about her projects here: http://crystalellefsen.com/