The Brooklyn Rail

DEC 20-JAN 21

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DEC 20-JAN 21 Issue
Critics Page

Impossible (2020)

A compositional outpouring by collaborating mothers and designers Chantal Fischzang and Rebecca P. Jampol. A visual pandemonium of reflection on 2020 pandemic caretaking, and the often invisible, and impossible role of a mother.

Everything is fucking impossible.
I am one whole to which all parts are spoken for.
All parts spoken for twice, three times, maybe more.
A function of which, is nothing new for motherhood.
A function of which is essential.

Daily motions, maneuvers, and the seconds that compile a day- double.
Each and every moment, is now impossibly layered.
A mother- intrinsically methodical, designs the unimaginable.

A puzzle.
An impossible schedule. A daily marathon.
A frantic dash to the finish line, and a deep breathe-
A pause, and a moment of wonder...
How will I do this tomorrow, again?

How will I do this tomorrow, AGAIN?


and deciphering what that is,
or could be, OR what it should be.
Unlearning, and prompting our children to learn in a way that we didn’t.

Protecting them, yet sharing enough so that they know what we’re up against.


Thinking about safety at all times.
Am I keeping my child/children safe?
Am I isolating them?
Am I compromising their childhood, freedom, or their mental health?
Could I lose them? Could they lose themselves?
Is being safe, actually being safe? - at all?


Questioning myself.
How do you see me?
How do you see a mother?

In a world of remote careers, quarantine mandates and WFH protocols-
The presence of a child somehow STILL makes you uncomfortable.
… Even if yours is one room over.

In this industry, where we are told to push beyond our reality,
The many professionals who casually sling around the words “cliche” or “typical,” to our outpouring of existence-

I beg you to consider that our reality is your reality- the very flesh that you sit in.
Motherhood is the expounding position, the impossible action that allows us to ALL BE.


The most impossible pain.
A mother is told to still exist,

Even if their babies don’t.

We find ourselves demonstrating with tears from our living rooms-
watching mothers of Black children mourn the injustices of our systems.

We find ourselves demonstrating with tears from the kitchen-
watching protesters march down our main streets, demanding reform, and a new system.

We find ourselves demonstrating with tears from the nursery-

How do these mothers- robbed by the uniformed murderer, still stand whole?

The most impossible pain.
while they simply do what children-
what people do.
play in their OWN backyard,
jog down their OWN street,
and sleep in their OWN bed.


Breonna Taylor.

We find ourselves demonstrating in tears,
in anger, wondering what if that was my impossible?


A selfless, impossible Journey-
A better life-
A risk-
to a land branded for freedom.
More than 5,400 children were separated from their families at the border these past four years.
More than 5,400 children.
545- without hope of being reunited.

We find ourselves imagining the cold bars of cages
and unimaginable fear embedded in the small, fragile bodies of their babies.

We find ourselves trying to comprehend the monstrous
system designed for humans, yet so humanless.

We find ourselves devastated for these mothers and their impossible.


A pandemic birth-

Riddle with fear-
Wrapped in pressure and anxiety.
Sometimes severed from security.
Told to push and pull and expand without any support.
To break open. WIDE THE FUCK OPEN,
And do The impossible.


A deep breath.


Hope, impossible hope.
Strength, impossible strength.
Resistance, and response-
Organizing, and dismantling.

Leaning on each other.
Creating space for each other.
Demanding visibility for each other.
Rebuilding, Dreaming…
For each other.
For our babies.


Whether I birthed you or was blessed with you,
This role, imaginable, conceivable-
because of the greatest, deepest, most impossible Love.


Chantal Fischzang

is a contributor to the Brooklyn Rail.

Rebecca P. Jampol

is a contributor to the Brooklyn Rail.


The Brooklyn Rail

DEC 20-JAN 21

All Issues