Molly Sutton Kiefer


How has having children changed your writing life?

I’m fairly certainly there is a procrastination gene, and my sister and I inherited it from our mother. (Love you, Mom!) Oftentimes I’ll make myself these charming little lists of goals (see “TNB!!” at top of said list, complete with tipsy exclamation points) and then my son decides to nosedive off the stoop onto a concrete slab or my daughter has just spilled that juice she swore she wouldn’t spill and whoops, it happens to be all over the to-do list and you missed naptime.

I can’t procrastinate. Or rather, I don’t have a choice as to how my procrastination plays out. I’m staying at home while the littles are this little, which means I have these strange slivers of time and rare moments of quiet. I pump that time up with as much poetry-action as I can tolerate. When my daughter was a newborn, I’d write after a mid-night feeding, then crawl back into bed. Now, I find myself writing to the light of my cell phone, trying not to wake my husband or son (we co-sleep and the babe is still nursing), on the backs of old poems, transcribing them the next morning. It’s frantic, but somehow, a thousandfold more productive. I don’t have a choice—if I don’t let the surges occur in the strangest of times, they won’t happen at all. It’s highly productive because I can’t say, “Later.” Later will probably be scrubbing urine from the new carpet.

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Buttons of snow froth down. How committed are you
to this earth? On the way to the appointment, I do not see
the chameleon-car; I do not stop at the first sounds of metallic protest.
My car corners my mother’s, bullies it in the driveway.
Crumples and outwinks its light.

Black crows burst from my chest. A decade ago, her fury
would bring down the four corners of our house.
Before I confess, I almost ask for my daughter back,
to hold her in my arms before my mother can think to use her as a weapon.