Sara Quinn Rivara

The Meeting of Orestes and Hermione by Anne-Louis Girodet de Roussy-Trioson (1767–1824)

Hermione Remembers Helen

When I was pregnant with you, I only gained [x] pounds, my mother
told me when I was pregnant with my son, and I only weighed [x] pounds

three days after you were born. She handed me a photograph of her
in a halter top: lustrous hair, rosebud lips. She eyed my belly,

the swell of my hips. After my son was born, I bought six scales
at Target, weighed myself on each of them a dozen times a day, walked

in the swelter of summer with the baby strapped to my chest, tried to whittle
my body down to bone, to nothing, to what is safe, which is to disappear.

Not every woman can a beauty, she said. My mother
always told me to treat people the way I wanted to be treated,

which meant: if you are selfless enough, maybe somebody will love
you back. Doesn’t matter who. No guarantees. Was it my first

husband who threw me against the wall, or the man who pressed
me onto the grass and pinched my nipples so hard they bled, or

the man who said I don’t know if I love you or if I love my wife?
Mama, you are small and fierce,
my son said when he was three

and crawled into bed with me. It was raining so hard outside
I could not tell if I was laughing or crying.

Sara Quinn Rivara’s poetry and essays have appeared recently in Bending Genres, Colorado Review, Whale Road Review, Pidgeonholes, and numerous other places. The author of two collections, Animal Bride (Tinderbox Editions) and Lake Effect (Aldrich Press) she lives and works in Portland, Oregon with her family.

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Fall 2021