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Spring Sestina for a Teen Mother

Jessica Claire Haney

Now seven months pregnant and showing,

the girl who in December wrote

me a letter about her broken home –

a letter later used in court –

clearly with a new smile reads a poem

that reminds her of being young


and innocent. Nicole is too young

to have a baby, more often showing

me anger than love for a poem

or anyone. Another girl, Ashley, wrote

a note to the baby’s father, court-

ing him on loose-leaf paper in home-


room. Tiffani, who never turns in home-

work, who was adopted when she was young,

is the one who put this ball in my court.

One day after class, after showing

me some late work, she paused and wrote

“She said she’ll give herself an abortion.” This poem


has been kicking me since then, a poem

that could save the young mother from her home.

Instead, I got on my laptop and wrote

an email to the no longer young

social worker, before in person showing

her the pregnant girl’s letter the court


would want to see. In fact, the court

gave the girl an advocate. She needed a poem,

a blessing, a painting, showing

her sunshine, space outside of her home

where a bottle is nursed all day by her young

father, who ignored the first summons the court wrote


months ago. But much later, he finally wrote

his sober name slowly in the court

ledger, suddenly not feeling so young

or like his daughter remembered in that poem.

I wonder if next year she’ll just stay home

and if, by then, I will be showing.


I want to imagine she wrote a new poem,

no longer seeing the court as her home,

showing her baby it’s safe to be young.


Jessica Claire Haney is a writer, editor and writing tutor. Her work has appeared in The Huffington Post, The Washington Post, Scary Mommy, Beltway Poetry Review, Court Green, Earth’s Daughters, Hip Mama and several anthologies. A former high school English teacher and a mom of two, she does wellness advocacy in schools and via her website, Mindful Healthy Life. Follow Jessica on Twitter at @crunchychewy and Instagram @jessicaclairehaney. More info:

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