American Mother, Sarah Lilius

Doesn’t leave the house, the newest baby screams all night, all day. Colic thorns and her skin bleeds like a tattoo, the sound is a skull shape she slips into.

Loses it over dirty dishes, remnants of dinner float like greasy body parts, corn kernels are the yellowed teeth of her husband, a wet bread slice is his slippery tongue. His mouth overrun with unhappiness.

Quits her job to raise a boy, a girl, the accidental third. They crawl around her on the dirty carpet. The cheerful yellow vacuum is full. She cannot move to empty the canister. Bones, saliva, small heads keep her down.

Nested hair. Stretch marks. Slight body odor. Moldy shower. Toys imprint her skin. Spit up dries on her shirt in the shape of Texas. Nightly wine stains her teeth. Pounds heap on her ass. There’s no sex.

Watches the laundry mountain sway, starts the machine with the teething baby on her hip, he bites her flesh like a diapered vampire.

Burns cartoons into her mind for a couple hours of sanity. They change over the years like her children, they lose interest, they speak, it’s two blinks, a ride away from home, then over.


Sarah Lilius is the author of four chapbooks including GIRL (dancing girl press, 2017), and Thirsty Bones (Blood Pudding Press, 2017). Some of her work can be found in Tinderbox, Entropy, and Fourteen Hills. Her work has been nominated for a Pushcart Prize and Best of the Net. Sarah lives in Arlington, VA with her husband and two sons. Her website is

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