By Jennifer Givhan
I couldn’t have had post-partum depression.
Yet I did.
I, a depressed mother.
Adoptive mother.
Ashamed mother.
Heavy with pressure;
mercury in a tube, heating
at some invisible fever:
I took someone else’s kid,
promised to love him always,
but there I was, wanting to dig
my fingernails into his thighs.
Wanting to rise through ashes
though there shouldn’t have been a fire.
I, a mother. A hypocrite.
A liar.
Post-partum depression I could have forgiven
myself. Baby blues. Hormones.
Something uncontrollable
in the sleep deprivation
a hundred years away
from Yellow Wallpaper.
But what hormones when my womb was empty?
Post-what if I was never full to begin with?
Jennifer Givhan was a 2010 PEN Center USA Emerging Voices Fellow, as well as a  finalist in the 2011 St. Lawrence Book Award Contest through Black Lawrence Press.  Her work has appeared widely, most recently in Rattle, The Los Angeles Review, Stone Telling, The Acentos Review, Crab Creek Review, The Santa Fe Review and The Southwestern Review. Originally from the Southern California desert, she now teaches composition at The University of New Mexico and is working on her first novel In the Time of Jubilee. You can visit Jennifer online at