Rebecca Fish Ewan: Silence Can be a Plan


“Do you do anything besides…”
He gestures to my baby boy . . .
“Well, Fuck Face,” I tell him
“I’m a professor here too like you . . . 


Silence Can Be a Plan

A plan to say
I am a mother
Become small
At first I do this to myself
I go about my life to become
A mother my mother never was
Not selfish and gone
But a good wife and mom
To be there, I had to become nowhere
Gertrude Stein’s Oakland full of Emily Dickenson
I-am-nobody-who-are-you emptiness
Women poets know all about the diminishing
Maybe it’s my bloodline to England
Where the word for mother also means silence
Mum’s the word and all that
Yes, silence can be a plan
Motherhood at the core of who I am
Day one in poetry school
I bring my infant son to the welcome
There are introductions
The teacher running the show
Is a man who writes fiction about men who write fiction
“And what about you?” he says
“Do you do anything besides…”
He gestures to my baby boy
As I rock the stroller like the ocean rocks a boat
His question diminishes what I do
As a mother
As a poet
And yet his question is not the truth of how it feels
To make a real thing
To hold out my hand and say I made this
“Well, Fuck Face,” I tell him
“I’m a professor here too like you.
I’ve published a book about a valley
A thirsty land hidden behind immense peaks
Huge mountains that steal all the rain and thunder
So the valley becomes desert
A still beautiful slit of shadowed stories.
And I have another one of these in kindergarten.
Suck on that!”
Each word echoes inside my skull
Each word swallowed up
In silence that speaks for me
I am mum to him
Female poets, I later learn
Choose not to have babies
Maybe for fear
Children will drain poetic genius right out of our titties
For fear we’ll become poetry moms
For fear my words, by sifting through my motherhood
Will become a silly kind of trinket craft
To pass each idle moment between a child’s needs.
So there’s a ban on full wombs
No one told this rule to Adrienne Rich
Mother of three
Poet with awards and accolades too numerous to recite.
I hang onto the memory of her smile
After a reading at poetry school
When she touches my hand
And nods Yes
Yes you can use my voice
Yes you can make your own with it
Yes silence can be a plan
A plan to use all my body parts
My mind
My mother mouth
My womb
My middle finger
All I am expands into an infinite cosmos of possibilities
In this new reality
No one asks women what they are besides…
In this new universe
What we choose for our bodies feeds our words
It’s understood
Silence can be a plan to make noise
Listen up.

Cartoonist, poet, author of A Land Between, Rebecca Fish Ewan just founded Plankton Press to celebrate micro hybrid nonfiction and publishes her zines, GRAPH(feeties) and Tiny Joys. Her cartoon/verse memoir ms. of a childhood best friendship recalls the tragic magic of seventies Berkeley.

Twit/Igram: @rfishewan  Website:

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