J. C. Todd has authored two chapbooks of poems, Nightshade (2000, 1995), and Entering Pisces (1985), both published by Pine Press. Her poems have appeared in such literary journals as The Paris Review, Prairie Schooner, Virginia Quarterly Review and Beloit Poetry Journal, and her translations of poems by the Ecuadorean writer Ivan Gordon Vailakis in Crab Orchard Review. She wrote the entries on Lucille Clifton and Etheridge Knight for The Oxford Companion to Twentieth Century Poetry in English. Todd has received a Fellowship in Poetry and professional development grants from the Pennsylvania Council on the Arts as well as four Pushcart Prize nominations for poetry.

Recipient of a New Jersey Governor’s Award for Arts Education and a Distinguished Teaching Artist award for poetry workshops offered through the New Jersey Writers’ Project, Todd teaches in the Writing for College program at Bryn Mawr College and the poetry program of the Geraldine R. Dodge Foundation. We’re happy to feature her poem below, which teaches us much about caretaking of all kinds.


Remember, Mother, when you were so ill
it hurt to move, hurt to lie still?  Or
perhaps you don’t, having passed  through flesh
into ether. I am the one who remembers,

remembers washing you and thinking,
Why don’t I remember you washing me?
As though to clear the soapy film that clouds
the water of the bath, a hand appears,

supporting my shoulders, flimsy neck,
the back of my still-soft head. Your hand,
released from cells that have transferred you
when you washed me onto me when I washed

you, our hands one hand now as I sponge
blood from  my daughters skinned knuckle.

From J. C. Todd, What Space This Body (Wind Publications, 2008). Reprinted with permission of the author.

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