Mother Tongue

Meghan E. Smith

When I named my daughter Pangaea,
I imagined moons, loaves,
things whole.

I believed tsunamis, earthquakes, magma would rock
her faults to sleep, but she asked: “Why
no life insurance, why no house on stilts, why
no fire retardant blankets in the basinet?”

I nicknamed her Pandora, or ‘little why,’
but from my core I answered with hot words:
“Because I am your mother. I am your protection.”

She dipped her toes in the ocean, felt cold,
called to say that she had peered into volcanoes,
saw lava, saw what I could not control.
It broke her in two, then seven, pieces.

Daughter, I have shifted
am spinning
to tell—Bering, Babel, equator, parallels, plates—
I hoped in any case to warn you
how the waves
will gnaw your wounds until
you forget
your name.

Meghan E. Smith is a poet and feminist activist from New England. After graduating from Wheaton College in Massachusetts with her degree in English and Creative Writing, she moved to Washington, DC, where she works for a reproductive health and rights organization. She is on the editorial staff for Magnolia Journal, a women's literary magazine. In addition to writing and political activism, she spends her time running, experimenting with vegan baking, and spicing non-baked goods with too much Tabasco.


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