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(Things I’ve learned about animal mothers, 
annotated for my grown children.)

A pregnant elephant can be expected
to wait two years until her calf’s ejected.
But pregnancy felt longer still to me:
nine months without espresso, lox, or brie.

Knocked up, a polar bear hunts seals and wobbles
with hundreds of new pounds from all she gobbles.
In my last weeks I grew so monstrous, it
was just a nightmare finding jeans that fit.

An egg one-fifth her size comes from the kiwi;
her pain is undeniably not pee-wee.
And yet I doubt that any bird around
has suffered more than I did when you crowned.

A newborn dolphin’s wide awake and leaping
for one whole month; Mom, too, does zero sleeping.
I slept, but such a minuscule amount –
you nursed three times a night – it didn’t count.

The lioness who wants to shield her litter
just hides them in some brush until they’re fitter.
The outlet plugs! The bumpers, floor to roof!
The endless hours I spent to childproof!

A mama falcon may be spotted trying
to teach her chicks to catch some prey while flying.
That’s nothing next to getting kids to flush
and wash and brush and floss when in a rush.

The pangolin, at first, takes no vacation
from pups that use her tail for transportation.
The day we brought you home, I had no clue
in 18 years I’d still be driving you.

The Stegodyphus lineatus spider
dies while her offspring eat the guts inside her.
You know what really kills a mother, though?
When she says, “Lunch this week?” and you can’t go.