“Do You Have Children?” by Susan Browne

Susan Browne


she asks as we walk off the tennis court
& someone starts up a chainsaw behind the fence

in the parking lot so I have to shout no!
& I’m suddenly tired, never been this tired 

of this question that’s always asked if you’re a woman, 
chunks of air falling around us 

like wildfire monsoon oily ocean machine-gunned 
atomic mushroom babies on a shriveled planet 

& she yells that she has three & her first grandchild!
while we stand on the hot asphalt with that chainsaw tearing 

a log to pieces & just won’t quit. She opens her car door, 
shows me the quilt she’s made, little lambs on it 

& when I touch the softness I want to be born 
into a world where I say yes.

from Rattle #74, Winter 2021
Rattle Poetry Prize Finalist


Susan Browne: “I’ve been in love with poetry since I was 12, when my next door neighbor gave me a book of poems, Archy and Mehitabel by Don Marquis. Archy is a cockroach and a free verse poet. Mehitabel is a cat in her ninth life with many stories to tell. Archy has to throw himself headfirst onto each typewriter key in order to write. I was inspired! Poetry is my way of being in the world. I don’t know any other way.” (web)

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