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Sara Mumolo

2 months still, before, 10 weeks, and intermittent: earning

The Owh cry—head, hands, feet—a muslin series of folds with living inside. You install the light dimmer, so I can see to feed, fold. You teach me to swaddle before you go back to work at two weeks. You go, and I don’t understand until years later. Tuck the corners in tight. I call to get more time off, but I don’t get how the benefits work. Neither does the voice asking me to return. At ten weeks go. Not a petal on the black bough. Verbs. I can’t yet walk up the hill to our apartment. I go. I fold. My work has benefits. You move furniture from one house to the next, up flights, through the woods, to the beach. You move you move you drive you move you lift. You fall asleep on the train and don’t make it home. You save your coworker P’s life in back of the work-truck in Orinda. Blue face, CPR, ambulance. Not too far away I’m at the work desk. It wasn’t oxy; it was fentanyl. You don’t make it home. Four years later P goes missing for weeks. You stay up until light learning code on a TV screen. Computer hums then revs while M and I sleep. You back the 32-foot truck into a Porsche. You pay the ticket. You dream you kill someone and tell me days later when you realize it’s not real. Hunger wakes us. I read about the Neh cry on the held screen, a glow by which I see the feed.

6 months then 48 months then 3 weeks: babble

I admit I blame the apartment for everything. Your asthma. Spit bubbles. Your grip around my finger, your first language. For months only two of us in the world know what you say. People ask if/when we are moving, are you looking, so I show my oblivion. In the apartment everyone is everyone near everyone all the time except on a school tour when the guide answers a question from the crowd: No, you do not get to pick your classroom or teacher just like in life we don’t get to pick our bosses. Everyone wants the room with windows. The beam’s crack swells, branches. You’re already a worker. A guardian line of comparative unrest stands in waves, lacking under the flag pole. We sleep right near each other in case of collapse. Dada, you say because M’s are harder to pronounce, I say. Everyone is everyone near collapse except on the street when the passerby suggests a book, The Holding Environment, which sounds more like a band than a man’s mothering philosophy. From Dada’s studies: “Node: The node before which the new node is to be inserted is not a child of this node.” I can’t tell what was recorded, backed up or saved: the everymother, the wolverine, or the node.

Sara Mumolo
is the author of Mortar and the Associate Director for the MFA in Creative Writing program at Saint Mary’s College of CA. She created and curated the Studio One Reading Series in Oakland, CA from 2007-2012, and Cannibal Books published her chapbook, March, in 2011. She has received residencies to Vermont Studio Center, Caldera Center for the Arts, and has served as a curatorial resident at Pro Arts Gallery in Oakland, CA. Her next book, Day Counter, is forthcoming in 2018 from Omnidawn.