Published on October 13th, 2022 | by Sara Beck



she was so little and so red and my god

so loud and it escalated like an ambulance coming

closer and closer and every night

all night i tried

the four S’s – shush swaddle sway and swear, maybe?

plus i tried bouncing on the exercise ball

until my thighs grew lean and never trembled even on hour three of

bouncing and shushing and swearing (but only under my breath)

and then i discovered bon iver

for emma, forever ago

and she was just interested enough to pause

every so often with her small, wrinkled face and gaze

toward the tiny speaker where the noise seemed to live

and the songs grounded me to a world where songwriters

strummed and reverb was added just so and

vocals layered to achieve a chorus of something that felt like a sigh

wistful and full of wanting something i couldn’t quite name

and the music saved me

it is a cliché but

sometimes clichés are true and before bon iver

i could not find myself

in that nursery, night after night

swaying, shushing, crying because she would not nurse

would not soothe and it was very possibly all due to a

personal shortcoming

i was discovering in myself

my mother-ness

but suddenly there was this record that played

in the background and

the nights were still long but

i could sense the morning before it came

catching me curled up beside a shiny white crib

gray circles under my eyes

and ever since i have not been able to hear for emma,

forever ago until i told my daughter about it,

about the album, about the sigh, about the hope that breathed

slowly through the speakers and she asked to hear it

at 11:30 one night, curled in my bed next to me,

her daddy having whispered good night from a tour bus in

idaho she asked if we could listen to it

she is eight now, and taylor swift has captured her she

listens closely to words enveloped in music and so

we lay awake and listened

but when her tears came i worried

i had made her sad

i had been too much myself in this room

with my child but

she hugged me tight she said she wasn’t sad

i’m not sad mama i’m not sad, I promise

she whispered

it’s just that i think

i remember

this song

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About the Author

Sara Beck is a singer/songwriter, poet, and an assistant professor of psychology. She got her PhD from Vanderbilt University in Nashville, Tennessee, and she currently lives in the foothills of the Blue Ridge Mountains of Virginia and teaches at Randolph College. Her musical output spans two decades and eight albums, including a children’s record. Her poetry has appeared in Rattle, Litmosphere, and Sunlight Press. Her favorite pastime is scribbling in notebooks while her children climb trees. Check out what she’s up to on Instagram (@saralynbeck).

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