Nicole Steinberg

My Mother Wears a Space Helmet

Four black Velcro straps:
two horizontal bands stretch across
the head and two vertical.
The test-run flattens her hair.
When’s takeoff time? Dad asks.
We watch her
breathe. She closes
her eyes; she’s never known air
to come this fast,
taste so pure. Dad scoffs
and says, Looks like
she wants to stay.

My Mother Gives Me a Breast Reduction

Her hands don’t shake
as she removes one nipple like
a pen cap.
The procedure lasts
five minutes, at most.
The results are lopsided; she sifts
pink gelatin from one breast
to the other, aiming
for perfectly matched mounds.
She washes her hands
clean and says: I don’t know
where these big boobs
came from—you certainly didn’t
get them from me.

My Mother’s Orange Binge

Soda, tic-tacs,
and of course, the fruits,
over swelled like
pregnant bellies
past due.

The view from
her hospital
room offered nothing
but a brick wall and slice
of sky, either light

blue or dark. Now, no one
can deny her
that resembles
the sun.

Lisa Jarnot / melissa christine goodrum / L. Sze / Michael Whalen / Matt Reeck / Drew Baughman / Napoleon Id / Britni Jackson / Nicole Steinberg / Kelly Matthews / V.L. Bond / Ed Go / Katy Resch / Chip Livingston