SWWIM publishes, celebrates, & promotes women, women-identifying & Femme-presenting writers through a Miami-based reading series & the online poetry journal SWWIM Every Day.

Primary Source

A teacher of mine once said every writer

has only four or five subjects.

There’s happiness in repetition

if you don’t hear the seconds ticking.

What’s worse? Dedicating yourself

to failure or denying it again and again?

Pacher’s pupil, a Renaissance carver, perfected

the pine folds of Saint Margaret’s robes

using a large axe, then 

several smaller ones, then

sanded and painted her in fine detail.

Did he ever think where did the time go?

She stands at the back of a church in Tyrol,

a dragon writhing under her feet.

What do you live for? The quiet

before sunrise or the moments after.

The baby coos in her pram.

I’ve always wanted to use the word pram

at least once in a poem.

Now that I’m a mother,

I’ve a better understanding of terror

and the miraculous.

Who will she be when she’s grown?

Do I have time to shower?

If, as a famous writer decreed, it takes 10,000 hours

to achieve mastery,

I’ve perfected rocking my hips from side-to-side,

changing a diaper in dim dawn light.

My baby practices sitting up even in her sleep—

her head bobs like a buoy, her eyelids shudder.

My teacher said sometimes your first line

is your last line.

What’s more? The moment she walks

or the moment she falls down.

Looking again at the photo, the dragon

lies curled at Margaret’s feet.

I’m holding an image of an image

someone else carved in my hands.

She loves it when I sprinkle my fingers

down on her like rain.

I’m holding the rain in my hands

and in my hands, the rain holds her.

Sara Burnett is the author of the chapbook, Mother Tongue (Dancing Girl Press 2018). Her poems have appeared in Barrow Street, Poet Lore, The Cortland Review, and elsewhere. She holds a MFA in poetry from the University of Maryland and a MA in English Literature from the University of Vermont. She is a recipient of Bread Loaf Writers’ Conference scholarships to support her writing. She lives in MD with her family.

Field Work

Recipe for a Childhood