This is Tayve Neese’s unsettling poem “Because my daughters are growing.” The children’s refrain (“Oh, Spider Mother”) about their mother turns out, in that unforgettable final turn, to prefigure their own (potential) futures as mothers, “a small life” inside them that “struggles like an angry fly.” Good poems change what we see: the next time I see a pregnant woman, thanks (I think!) to Neese, that’s what I will see. —Dan Chiasson
BECAUSE MY DAUGHTERS ARE GROWING,
grief has stained and doubled my limbs.
Each daughter I enfold in arms
sees my blurred eyes as multi-faceted.
Oh, spider-mother, they tease.
Oh, spider-mother, they sing
all their days over their sweeping,
their small games with shells.
And I lament more as their legs
grow tall and thick, their hips
spread like a terrible web
in which a small life will stick,
struggle like an angry fly.