Submitted poem by Nihal Mubarak

You keep waiting for your body to make a baby
You are strong and young, you tell yourself
It’s fine 
But the women in your family have a history 
of losing children:
They make them easily, but there are countless stories 
of disappearing babies 
Knowing this,
you wait for your body to give you a sign
that it is also bad at carrying

The women in your family are confused
It’s as though they’ve forgotten their own stories,
the children they did manage to have serving as a salve
A memory dampener 
They call you and ask if you have any good news for them
You’ve been married for two years
They don’t understand what you’re waiting for 
No one tells you this out loud, 
but you hear it in the way they say:
“It’s better now, while you’re young”

You want to say: here
Here is my body—take it.
You want to tell them you’re afraid 
of being broken on the inside, 
of looking into the toilet one day and seeing 
what your body couldn’t hold onto for too long

Is it possible to carry so much fear inside you that there is no longer space for a child?

Your cousins are married and expecting within months
They give birth and your aunts are joyful
Your mother prays for you, says: “I hope you’re next”
You hope you aren’t 
You want to tell her, “No, Mama, I don’t want to be”
but this is probably a lie 
And anyway, you can’t say no to your mother
Unlike your body, which has no problem 
saying it to you


Nihal Mubarak is a poet and short story writer whose work has appeared online and in print, most recently in Solidago and The Gordian Review. In her free time she loves taking photographs and watching the Food Channel. She is currently pursuing her MFA in fiction at Emerson College. 

Some of her work can be found on her Instagram page, @a_taste_of_verse.