Listening to My Mother Is an Act of Learning to Love Myself

Photo by HNewberry /

By Katelyn Durst


When I learned I was pregnant, I was scared

because I was the shape of the moon

and I didn't think that my body carried enough light

to make the night sky shine.


Whittling a daugther from your flesh

feels like pulling the last hope out of your own body

and putting it into someone else.


You pray that it will grow taller

and taller like the sunflowers who thrust their faces toward the sun.


Birth is not the hardest thing I have done.

My body has been opened to reveal something sacred

more times than I can count.


I hear you call me in the mornings and the evenings, your cries

enlightening and louder than the pain I'm afraid I gave you.


Sometimes I think of your eyes and am filled with deep joy

because they shined with wonder and belief


before the world filled you up with grief, hatred and doubt; you smiled

and curled into me because you were used to being safe beneath my heart.


Daughter, there will be days that you feel forgotten but do not

allow the seeds planted in you and in me to never get to see your light.


When your head droops, like the sunflowers at night, remember it is

only this season.


Turns out your skin is made up of water

and sometimes the most natural thing to do

is cry.


Turns out your skin is made up of water

and sometimes the most natural thing to do

is cry.


And I will collect your tears and throw them into the night sky as stars,

so that your petals, those fragile and determined limbs of yours

will believe


in something greater, like the wide blue of the ocean that

is merely a reflection of the truth inside of you.


The day you left my arms, I somehow felt forever broken and full.

The rainbow ahead of me, may it be the prisms of light, refining

the dark chasms you will tread but are to never dwell in.


May the mighty flood pushed out of me give a promise

that is renewed every time your eyes



Katelyn Durst is a community artist, creative activist, teacher and youth worker. She has worked within urban youth development and urban community development for ten years and has taught poetry for six years, recently conducting poetry therapy workshops at a youth psychiatric hospital, and for Freedom Schools summer programming in a workshop focused on healing from the unjust deaths of youth of color. Katelyn is currently pursuing a master's in Urban Studies and Community Arts from Eastern University with a focus on trauma-informed art-making to build sustainable and transformative resiliency within urban/inner-city and displaced communities. In her spare time, she dreams of becoming an urban beekeeper. She was poet-in-residence at The Mudroom, where this poem first appeared.

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