Published on Academy of American Poets (


There were strollers, outgrown, circulated till a wheel fell off.

Anna’s infant RockaRoo went to Francesca then to Sophia

who gave it back to Anna when she had the twins.

Travel cribs traveled between homes and the green vest

Sophia knitted for Ming’s first was worn by all the next babies.

Onesies, drawstring gowns, snap-legged overalls,

snowsuits, sweatpants, jeans, t-shirts, jumpers,

all sorted, washed, boxed then sent on

till they were sorted, washed, boxed and sent again.

Pj’s worn to that silkiest perfection, then worn 

wholly through, reluctantly tossed. A blue dress

with applique lilacs was the favorite of each girl

and who knew where the velvet blazer came from,

but it did the job for more than one holiday concert.

Even this year, a photograph of Francesca’s youngest in

handsome in that hand-me-down wool pea coat. Sophia hit
      reply all:

Our last? No! Well, fits yours better than it ever did mine.


Copyright © 2015 by Victoria Redel. Originally published in Poem-a-Day on May 10, 2015, by the Academy of American Poets. 

About this Poem

“Oh, for that remarkable and complex economy of motherhood. Those back and forth generosities—where one day a mom ferries the kids to the swim meet, or a mom takes your kid off to the movies while you’re sick with the flu. And the next week after baseball you have all the kids sleep over. Not to mention the friend with whom you freely have the throw-your-hands-in-the-air-I-surrender discussions of how to manage any of it.”
Victoria Redel


Victoria Redel

Victoria Redel was born in New York, New York, on April 9, 1959, a first-generation American of Belgian, Egyptian, Polish, Romanian, and Russian descent. Redel grew up in Scarsdale, New York, and later attended Dartmouth College, where she graduated with a degree in visual arts in 1980. She also studied for an MFA in poetry at Columbia University. 

Redel is the author of three poetry collections: Woman Without Umbrella (Four Way Books, 2012); Swoon (University of Chicago Press, 2003); and Already the World (Kent State University Press, 1995). She is also the author of four books of fiction, including the award-winning novel Loverboy (Graywolf Press, 2001), which was adapted into a feature film in 2005.

In her review of Woman Without Umbrella, Carolyn Forché writes,

Woman Without Umbrella braves the perilous world of the present in allegorical lyrics of unexpected love, wild survival, diasporic estrangement. These are poems of gratitude for the still quickening of mature eros, the still “bright absolute” of desire. Redel’s luminous “postcards to the future” render our predicament radically legible, to be survived with whatever courage we can summon. Delight with her in a city of miraculous luck.

Before she returned to New York City to pursue her MFA at Columbia, Redel worked as an addiction counselor in hospitals in Greenfield and Concord, Massachusetts. She has taught writing at Columbia University, Davidson College, The New School, and Vermont College, and has received fellowships from the Fine Arts Work Center, the Guggenheim Foundation, and the National Endowment for the Arts. She is currently a faculty member in Sarah Lawrence College’s writing program and lives in New York City.

Date Published: 2015-05-10

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