The Paris Review

Poetry Rx: Mother’s Day Edition

In our column Poetry Rx, readers write in with a specific emotion, and our resident poets—Sarah Kay, Kaveh Akbar, and Claire Schwartz—take turns prescribing the perfect poems to match. This week, Sarah Kay is on the line.

©Ellis Rosen

Dear Poets—

People say you can’t know a certain kind of love until you have a child. I hated when people said this before I had a child, but now I know it is true. My love for my daughter sometimes feels terrible and desperate and weighty with responsibility. But also sweet and tender and silly. I’m frequently irritated, sometimes infuriated, but nothing she could ever do or say would stop me loving her. I keenly feel the reality that she will leave me one day. Hopefully she’ll be happy, she’ll call home at least weekly, but that’s the best case scenario. It’s also possible, even likely, that—at least at some point—she’ll be distant and not return my calls and will discuss in therapy all the ways I’ve hurt her. And even that’s not close to worst case scenario. I just LOVE her. Even when she screams with all the vehemence her wild four-year-old self can muster that she doesn’t love me … even when she wakes me up at three in the morning … even when she writhes and wails for forty

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