Maggie, We Keep Driving

by Alina Stefanescu

            for Maggie S.

I couldn't sleep, my whole head
occupied by endings. Fear sounds the same
up close, every edge shares its lightning.

By morning, the kids want fresh muffins,
something sweet as the commercial
you've rehearsaled: this motherhood.

The cereal poured over a headache,
the happy voice you rent to make
going nowhere sound fun. In a car

with coffee, roads twisted by last night's
tornadoes. The chatter of blossoms, azalea
buds. It is spring in Alabama. The teen

son says geese have teeth on their tongues
which they use to eat souls. You believe it.
Roofs look up from the road. You drive slower,

you slow for hearses. The youngest child
hums; she counts colts in the meadows.
She dreams of riding a Palomino.

You love these kids more than mayo
on french fries, more than midnight,
more than your own mother loved you

which is the algebra of ashes. What is true
remains impossible to measure, or prove.
The littlest raises ten fingers and says

I am both hands now, mommy. I am two
but I don't know about being more. She
says her heart only hoped to be a horse thief.

Alina Stefanescu was born in Romania and lives in Birmingham, Alabama with her partner and several intense mammals. Recent books include a creative nonfiction chapbook, Ribald (Bull City Press Inch Series, Nov. 2020). Her poetry collection, dor, won the Wandering Aengus Press Prize and is forthcoming in July 2021. Alina’s writing can be found (or is forthcoming) in diverse journals, including Prairie Schooner, North American Review, World Literature Today, Pleiades, FLOCK, Southern Humanities Review, Crab Creek Review, and others. She serves as Poetry Editor for Pidgeonholes, Poetry Editor for Random Sample Review, Poetry Reviewer for Up the Staircase Quarterly, and Co-Director of PEN America’s Birmingham Chapter. More online at

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