Without Mothering

by Mariah Perkins

I can’t yell at my dog, which has taught me that maybe I could have kids one day because they will have faces. Round cheeks, round jawlines, thick hair—everywhere. They will be like me, their mother. And I will see them. I will see them and think about the time I had a dog, and how I could never hit her. For as many times as I reeled my arm back, punching air with my elbow, my knuckles have never kissed fur or flesh, just walls or pillows, sometimes.

I think I am doing okay this week, with my anger, considering the amount of times I’ve taken the ring off—six—and put it back on again. I tell him it is because I can’t sleep with it on, or I forgot it on the counter while washing dishes. But I take it off because it itches. It itches like sunburn, or like giving up on our plans to elope. I do not yell at him or the dog, just take my ring off.

At the end of the week, I fall asleep thinking about his sister who dreamt I was pregnant. So, I hold my stomach with my ringless hand in the shower the next morning. I forget to put it on before leaving the house that day. This is the true forgetting. The kind of forgetting like a song lyric on the tip of your tongue or leaving the house without your wallet. This is the kind of forgetting that makes me remember that I am still here without it.

Mariah Perkins is a middle school teacher from Grand Rapids, Michigan. She is a recent MFA graduate of Wichita State University where she proudly served as co-editor-in-chief of Mikrokosmos and mojo. Her work appears in Lunch Ticket, fugue, bluestem, and others. You can also listen to her work on WYCE’s Electric Poetry.