Pre-Dawn Motherhood

Every spring,
my son’s syncopated sneezes,
water the green duvet covers,
his cough, a predawn chorus,
followed by a birth bath laugh
but whether he is ailed
by pollen or invading weeds,
farm fertilizer or budding trees.
Ash, Aspen, Perennial Rye or Timothy,
we have no magical defense
nor holy remedy.

Before sunrise,
he says with a scoff
between phlegmy coughs:
“I’m allergic to God.”

The light through blinds
an upside-down cross,
his nose, a red bloom
ready to fall off.

“I don’t think you can
be allergic to a diety.”

“But, I am.” He wipes snot
on my sleeve.

And I think of my own
itchy indoctrination,
the drip of drivel,
cloudy head
or what is right and wrong,
atonements for things thought
not even said,
and I bravely reply:

“God is within us, not up in the sky.”
God is you and I.”

We hug
with watery eyes.
I try to squeeze out all the
piety, the lies.

Yes, my son, you are wise
to know that God is
sensitivity in disguise.

Β© 2022 | K.Hartless

Artwork: “The Sneeze Painting” by Kristy Lankford

Many writer friends tell me that writing about motherhood is taboo, and viewed as a no-no topic. I’ve encountered this anti-motherhood sentiment in poetry and flash fiction magazines. It seems this should be remedied, so I thought I’d share with you some real moments of my experiences as a mother (both present and past) as we head towards Mother’s Day, celebrated this Sunday here in the United States.


  1. This has to be one of my favorite poems of yours, K. The way you take the reader on a journey from a cold to the Divine within is glorious. I also greatly enjoy the flow of your words, and the word choice in this piece. Amazing. πŸ’œ

    Liked by 1 person

    • What a marvelous compliment. Thank you, Jeff. A huge part of who I am is a mother, and so it felt good to write about it more freely. πŸ’œ Do you ever write about fatherhood? Memories I’m sure abound.


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