The Mother of All Lists: 5 Books for Mother’s Day

O god save all the many gendered-mothers of my heart, & all the other mothers, who do not need god or savior,

our hearts persist in excess of the justice they’re refused.

Dana Ward, “A Kentucky of Mothers

On Mother’s Day, we celebrate mothers, aunties, grandmothers, and more. We celebrate family, sisterhood and friendship. But one day really isn’t enough to pay tribute to the impact our many gendered caregivers have on our lives. Here are 5 recommended reads from BookThug for Mother’s Day 2017—from reflections on loss and abortion, illness and community, to essays on women’s shared experiences, and poetry on love, motherhood, and identity—or any day that you want to explore complicated, compelling, heartbreaking and beautiful stories of being human and connected to one another.

Notes from a Feminist Killjoy: Essays on Everyday Life

By Erin Wunker

Preface: Letter to My Daughter

May you be comfortable in your body and know it is yours. If your body doesn’t fit you, may we find ways to make it yours. May your body only know pleasure and empowerment. May we give you the language to say yes, to say no. May the world be gentle with you. May you not lose that unselfconscious you-ness we hear from your crib when you wake up, singing. May you know the fierceness of strong friendships with women. May you be kind. May you feel held. May you write your own stories.

—From Notes from a Feminist Killjoy

Deep Salt Water

By Marianne Apostolides

I don’t love the mermaid, or even the man with the laughing gas. The love flows through, but it won’t last: it’s manufactured, little pill. Like psychedelic plankton, coral reefs and Leary’s brain. I love the man who stands and observes. We met in the starlight when planets were forming. I will not meet him until tomorrow. We’ll make a child who won’t be born.

I’ve never come to terms for this. Not yet. You’ll see.

—From Deep Salt Water

Testament

By Vickie Gendreau, translated by Aimee Wall

To Martine, my mother, I bequeath: this monologue recited by a five-year-old girl, my flowered bikini, and one hundred fennec foxes.

[Maman:] Hubert Aquin does his washing in the water of Vickie’s tears. Her tears are clear, she hasn’t worn makeup in ages. She’s my daughter. I took care of my sick mother, my grandmother at the end of her life, and now my daughter. I’m a natural caretaker. All of those women had blue-green eyes, except Vickie. She has brown eyes, like her father.

—From Testament

Buoyancy Control

By Adrienne Gruber

Think of the baby

who thrust out, the placenta

its inverted twin. Think of my mother

who couldn’t hold her bowels as she pushed

out my sister, the nurse trying to convince her,

pressure in the uterus.

—From Buoyancy Control

Beautiful Children with Pet Foxes

By Jennifer LoveGrove

A mother who is a towering sycamore, arms outstretched to block the sun whose skin is fragrant bark, dry and rough against my cheek.

A mother who is a pit of mud, cool and soft, curling around me when I fall into her, naked and hungry and without memory.

A mother who is the sky, wide with thunder and bigger than the world, shoving me over from behind.

A mother who is a volcano, whose burning venom carves her initials into the sides of mountains. Who I might run from, or dive into.

—From Beautiful Children with Pet Foxes

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