Single Mother



I want to talk about the things of the past year in the most
*******delicate way possible,
why delicate?
Because I don’t have to be trapped in the
*******banal language of complaints
in the “I’m tired,”
in “it has been months since I’ve slept two hours
that doesn’t say anything
or anyway it conceals behind a fur covering, hard
*******and thick
the heart of the problem
to name it in some way and give it a heart
the body being so sensitive as if the skin
were blistered by the sun
the mind, dazed
the desert sand at noon
and the soul, if we can even open these parts
*******like a fan to say
this is like this, and this is like this,
the soul thin, crunchy, broken,
in its moment of apparent maximum strength.


I am that type of monster
a mix of rage and tenderness
of whispers and a desire to scream
and what else?
of confusion and clarity
of completely white confusion.


*******Now pay attention, because we’ve arrived at the center of the book. Or maybe it isn’t the center; instead, something like a crossroads.

*******Junio was born at around 7:15 on an afternoon in November, I don’t remember exactly, but it was definitely a Wednesday. At three in the morning a contraction woke me up and I kept waiting for the next one, which took a few minutes. Later I grabbed my cell phone and sent messages to the midwives to tell them, and after I think I kept sleeping a bit more. At around six I couldn’t sleep anymore because the contractions were more frequent and aside from that a very strong emotion overtook me, I cried thinking that in a few hours I would see my baby, I was insane with happiness. The midwives told me in a message not to get too excited because sometimes contractions come and then go but I knew Junio was coming, so I stayed in bed listening to a record I had picked out and waited. At around nine I went to take a shower and in the shower I think my water broke, I’m not sure because I was in the water so you couldn’t tell, but I did feel like I was peeing with a splash instead of a stream. After that I made mate and I went back to the bedroom to keep waiting; those were the best hours, very calm. At noon my boyfriend arrived, I had sent him a message inviting him over for lunch, I didn’t want to tell him that I was in the middle of labor so as not to make him nervous. He arrived happy and he sat on the bed, I asked him not to speak to me and we stayed like that for a while. A few hours later everything changed and the contractions started to hurt very much, then it became clear that something different had started because I took off all my clothes and I got into the bed on all fours, I could no longer take lying on my back. Then I did ask my boyfriend to call the midwives, I thought the baby was coming at any minute and I was scared to push and that he would come out and I wouldn’t know what to do. They said there was still more time, but they would come anyway. That period got ugly because I despaired a bit, it felt long. When one of the girls got there I felt better, she gave me massages and she recommended I go take a hot shower that would make me feel good, so that’s what we did. The hot water relieved me and it was an intimate moment because my boyfriend took off his clothes, got in the shower with me and we kissed. After we stayed a while in the bathroom, while the midwives ate some apples sitting in the hall. For this moment, I was dying of pain, I cried for help and much worse things with each contraction and I hung on the neck of my boyfriend to push, which felt really hard. I don’t know, I was in a trance, there are photos of this moment and in all of them my face looks like I’m coming, I threw my head back and called my baby, I asked him to get there, things like that; later they told me that I looked somehow illuminated. I felt given over to something very serious and dizzying, like a rollercoaster that you’re getting on very slowly and just as you realize you’re there you’re crashing down at full speed in the car. And all your emotions can transform themselves into fear, you go from courage to fear. When it seemed like things weren’t moving forward in the water we went into the hallway, and there I kept pushing for a few more hours, on all fours, or with my leg up on a stool, hanging from the window, and so on. The pain was horrible, each contraction a violent pinching that takes you by assault, that grabs you from behind and doesn’t let you go, only you know that it will let you go and you have to rise above that force and use it. At one point, to give myself courage, and like I’ve said a few times I was scared–I don’t know of what, because you’re not really thinking–one of the midwives said I should put my finger inside me, that I could touch the head, and I did. I couldn’t believe that such a soft thing was the head of my son! But now it was there, close, real, so I filled myself with energy for the last pushes. My boyfriend sat on a stool, I sat above, and in two pushes the head came out. In the middle two of the most lucid and terrifying minutes passed, with a sensation that a rock was being dragged through the walls of my vagina, something that burned so much, and at the same time the desire to keep going, the amazing feeling of being so conscious and awake and to feel everything. After the head, another push, the body shot out, everything slippery. The midwife picked him up, did something with the umbilical chord, and right away put him on my chest. There’s a photo of this moment where I’m in ecstasy, with the happiest face I’ve ever seen in my life, my boyfriend behind holding me, and our son like a little ball and purple on my chest, still with the umbilical chord hanging. We were like that a while, me crying from happiness and talking to him, saying things to console him, until the midwife offered me a tiny blanket to wrap around him and we went to the bedroom. I sat on the bed with my baby in my arms and right away I gave him my breast; after the midwives said I should do something like cough and the placenta came out. They looked me over, saw that everything was fine and cleaned up a little. After they made mate and came into the bedroom with some things to eat, and we stayed like that talking for a while about what everything had been like. At midnight we went to sleep, my boyfriend and I with our baby, we put him in the middle of the bed, and I didn’t sleep at all though I was so tired because I spent all night looking at him.


The birth you can’t talk about, or better said, about the birth you can’t tell anything that matters. What breaks you and destroys you and throws you into the wilderness naked and trembling is another thing.


Now I’m thinking about the birth, I just wrote about it, and I remember myself, and the only thing I can say is that I feel I was so young. I was incredibly young, and after that passed many decades, and I gave birth a thousand years ago.


A woman should be a soldier

if she’s a woman
she needs to be fierce

a woman should be aggressive

a woman
if she becomes a mother,
or not
at the edge of her fingertips
has to grow claws.


There’s the moon, do you like it?


Marina Yuszczuk

Marina Yuszczuk is a poet who received her doctorate in literature. She works as a journalist and a film critic for the cultural supplement Las12 of Página 12, and for the magazine La Agenda. She has published various books of poetry: Lo que la gente hace (Blatt & Ríos, 2012), Madre soltera (Mansalva, 2013), and La ola de frío polar (Gog y Magog, 2015). With the press Rosa Iceberg, which she founded with Tamara Tenenbaum and Emilia Erbetta, she recently published Los arreglos (2017), her first book of prose. Her first novel, La inocencia, was recently published by Iván Rosado.

Alexis Almeida

Alexis Almeida grew up in Chicago. Her poems and translations have appeared or are forthcoming in Gulf Coast, Prelude, Dusie, Flag + Void, Action Yes, and elsewhere. She is an assistant editor at Asymptote and a contributing editor at The Elephants. Her chapbook of poems, Half-Shine, is recently out from Dancing Girl Press, her translation of Florencia Castellano's Propiedades vigiladas (Monitored Properties) is recently out from Ugly Duckling Presse, and her translation of Roberta Iannamico’s Tendal is forthcoming from Toad Press. She recently spent the year living in Buenos Aires on a Fulbright research grant, where she has been compiling and co-translating an anthology of contemporary female poets living in Argentina.

Madre soltera. Copyright (c) Marina Yuszczuk, 2013. English translation copyright (c) Alexis Almeida, 2017.