“My Worries Are a Toddler and I’m a Young Mother Crouching in a Bathtub” by Christine Naprava

My Worries Are a Toddler and I’m a Young Mother Crouching in a Bathtub

My worries, I water them in fears night and morning with my tears like William Blake did his
wrath, and I feed them mandarin oranges as they screech and form sentences and kick their
legs in a high chair they’ll soon grow out of. I sit my worries in front of a television set
that’s been bolted to the entertainment center with screws grey and strong, and I steal
away to the bathroom with my phone in hand, eyes already brimming with tears
salty, tears two years postpartum. I’m that mother on TikTok who sobs in a
bathtub with no water because her kids haven’t yet figured out her hiding
place. Like her, I shut the door behind me but leave it unlocked, a
challenge for my worries, which are short but smart, clever with
tiny probing fingers that are just learning to test boundaries,
and for an added layer of defense, I draw my invisibility
cloak with the mold in climbing blooms of black
closed. I know with certainty that for dinner
water will be boiled in a pot gone burnt at
the base and salt and then Rigatoni will
be added to that pot, and in another
pot smaller in size, Francesco
Rinaldi will warm and then
bubble when left to warm
for too long, and my
worries, they’ll
wail and make
a mess that
only I can
but for five
or fifteen minutes,
my worries are engrossed
in Cocomelon and the bathtub,
cool and hard, bends with my spine,
and my mind is as numb as the
water I should run but won’t
because to waste water
costs money and my
toddler needs
to eat.

Christine Naprava is a writer from South Jersey. Her work has appeared or is forthcoming in Contrary Magazine, Kissing Dynamite, The Friday Poem, Drunk Monkeys, and Overheard Lit, among others. You can find her on Twitter @CNaprava and Instagram @cnaprava.