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Is Too Much Mothering Bad for You?

It’s hardly even a matter of debate anymore that the demands of American motherhood have spiraled out of control. Yet there appears to be little sense that the excesses of our parenting culture are anything more than a personal problem We continue to be resistant to thinking more broadly about the subject: about the ways our society have created the high-pressure, high-stakes world of family life.

Kin

He has the surname that suggests
a contested kinship: Jefferson—

Congregation

Somewhere in the post-Katrina wreckage and disarray of my grandmother’s house, there is a photograph of my brother Joe and me, our arms around each other’s shoulders. We are at a long-gone nightclub in Gulfport, the Terrace Lounge, standing before the photographer’s airbrushed scrim—a border of dice and playing cards around us. Just above our heads the words HIGH ROLLERS, in cursive, embellished—if I am remembering this right—with tiny starbursts. 

Watcher

At first, there was nothing to do but watch.
For days, before the trucks arrived, before the work
of clean-up, my brother sat on the stoop and watched.

Exegesis

On Saturday, when I come to see
my brother, they call him, over loudspeaker,
to the tower—a small guardroom

Prodigal I

Once, I was a daughter of this place:
daughter of Gwen, granddaughter
of Leretta, great of Eugenia McGee.

Prodigal II

I wanted to say I have come home
to bear witness, to read the sign
emblazoned on the church marquee—

Benediction

I thought that when I saw my brother
walking through the gates of the prison,
he would look like a man entering his life. 

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