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Bewildering Stories

Channie Greenberg, The Wife/Mom


The Wife/Mom
Author: Channie Greenberg
Publisher: Seashell Books
Date: July 5, 2019
Length: 153 pages
ISBN: 1076142524; 978-1076142528

It is not so effortless for women to integrate their roles. Whereas women are pushed to “accomplish,” they are simultaneously chided for embracing traditional female functions.

Women who have advanced degrees, 401Ks, or late model sports cars receive more positive feedback from men, and from women, who have taken on “men’s jobs,” than do gals who deign to define themselves by: how actively they engage in communication with their spouses, how mindfully they proceed through their pregnancies, and how well they nurture their sons, daughters, and, later, their grandchildren. Simply, as a society, we’ve made girls into boys, while dismissing any reverence we had for girls.

The Wife/Mom explores possible answers to this dilemma by addressing communal stances on both visible and hidden, gender-based strata. This assemblage of poetry puts front and center our culture’s need to return to cherishing women as “women” and to esteeming “womanly” goings-on, per se. In these poems, females might be intrepid visionaries laboring in complex math, might be maestros of major orchestras, or might be Olympic athletes, but they are beloved first and foremost for being women.

This book celebrates leaky breasts, postpartum vaginas, and the complexities of striving to not have a favorite child. Likewise, this work insists that we embrace the activities of women, not in lieu of the activities of men, but in addition to them. In these pages, electing to drink pickle juice is as important as being able to order 1947 Domaine Faiveley Musingy Grand Cru. Here, homespun rhetoric gets valued alongside of sophisticated, political maneuvering. In this collection, the assorted emotions indigenous to the finer gender get played out not as hysteria, but as probable, important responses to significant, human moments.

The Wife/Mom posits that we ought not to incarcerate ladies in insane asylums or to minimize their convergent media sound bites. Female views must count.

Whereas there’s nothing theoretically wrong with women venturing into space, growing up to be publishers, or running the kitchens of fine restaurants, there is much, which is matter-of-factly incorrect, with upbraiding women for choosing to spend some or all of their time taking care of their families. Hence, in The Wife/Mom, being a committed partner and being a mother receive all manner of long overdue applause.

The Wife/Mom

While watering the herb garden, I interface,
Ponder outrageous emails, childhood friends,
Petunias tasted nightly by bold groundhogs,
Plus dream of baths with fastened doors,
Candles, music, oleaginous soap, and spin
Fantasies of snow vacations, as school,
Dripping noses, hot cocoa rings, get flouted.

By mistake, our dear kitty’s gotten locked in
That closet, where unmatched socks hang about,
Also, random towel collections skulk, await my
Punctilious lover to engage me in meaningful
Talk about ill-placed baby gates, smelly healing
Tinctures, the family’s uneven back porch tiles,
Maybe the joys of dogs slurping toilet water.

Later, blanket thieves on tippy toes, discover
Our living room’s screes, our furniture mountains.
They painted the grout mauve, slung lights under
Covers, created kitchen polders, campaigned to stay
Awake past eight, nine, ten, “until nearly forever.”
Nose down in dollar books, they snore like ravens.
Morning brings banister slides, some head first.

Hubby’s rock and roll music, toenail clippings,
Poison ivy rash, lovemaking, following his filling
Up with popcorn, willingness to drive carpool
En route to work, as well as his memory games,
Focusing on romance, thwarted grocery shopping,
Again, last night. I remain the riparian between
Domesticity and waywardness as the wife/mom.


Without having to understand mechanisms,
TEOTWAWKI could be a time of killing
Cherished bunkmates, delivering “love notes”
Filled with anthrax, gifting solace via
Suicide squads, government thugs, Big
Brother organizations, or, maybe, the seeding
Of highway meridians with oxeye daisies.

Mass graves won’t be dug at family
Gatherings, picnics, walks in the park.
When making compote rich in wine,
It’ll still okay to drizzle cinnamon, chop
In grapes, add toasted coconut. Many
Buildings yet standing will source safe
Comestibles, offer culinary consolation.

Like erstwhile friends, we won’t brook:
Expecting money-back guarantees, the
Resurrection of half-dead creatures, old
School morality, well-intended sharing.
They’ll be no privacy of rented spaces,
No teatime biscuits steeped ‘til ready,
Just navy seals skulking among copses.

Woodlands won’t be playgrounds. No
Orchards will stay unclaimed. Vast fields
Will get marked as boot reflex provisions.
Enforcers, not extermination camps, will
Determine seasoned park workers’ strength.
Well-armed others will survive by pulling
Stuff, ransacking chosen, assaulted bodies.

Despite earlier celebrated mutual norms,
It will be laughable to hike out from cities.
Abruptly, alliances will seem less vital
Than signal mirrors, whistles, magnetic
Compasses, lighters, boots, lead pencils,
Multi-tools, radios, smoke grenades,
No one will bother learning calculus.

Having jumped across torn limbs, scouts
Will view upright trees as principled allies.
Singular persons, if perspicacious, will auction
Pets for tourniquets and purification tablets.
Dear hearts will search mag-lights and rifles.
(The rest of us will limit interviews to select
Prisoners, after stealing all handy bashas.)

(Originally published in Mad Swirl. Dec. 2015)

Copyright © 2020 by Channie Greenberg

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