Editors' Pick

Motheren

It was a book of manners
she handed me
a closed book I failed to open
a book I could hit her with

No  never would even think
to do that
so deep inside   those many pages
words chewed-up  digested

ʌð

 The way of teeth
those curved rows
that meet and grind
mother and child

ʌð

The fence is made of years
sometimes I sleep beneath it
dream I have my period again
my mother is old  her hair glows
I see her now and then between
the palings that stake the grass and sky

ʌð

The home
I grew up in was a clean
restaurant  where
the cook aimed to please.
And did.

ʌð

A fringe of moss roses
zinnias up to my shoulders
the flowers and I grew
in her garden  rototilled and
tended with peppers
squash and beans
preserved on the shelf
the child I was

ʌð

my bitter name

is bitter
in my bitter mouth

is butter
in her butter mouth

ʌð 

each eye was a
beginning limb
each knot an
attempt  how
lovely the swirl
of setback and loss

ʌð

the grain of the wood
its daily jotting
all those rays of sun
the tree ate
radiate inside

ʌð

Rain calls to the worms
such a pure language!

how they rise from the soil
glistening like earthen intestines

drowning   they leave their home

ʌð

I have two children
the baby falls
into the ocean
below my house

I dive down
through the narrow
PVC pipe and snatch
my baby from the beams
of the saltwater basement
struggle to the surface
with the baby in my arms

then remember the other
Child –
     where are you?

ʌð

The property of fastening
the ultimate mother
gift  the clasp  the
button the clip the zip
Behold  beheld

ʌð

Which of us
the satellite?
interstellar
feeling and space
filled with rescue

ʌð

May follows me around
surrounds and fills in
behind me; May completes
me; no, I am a silhouette
in the presence of May.
I can’t – whatever I
try – I can’t shake May.

ʌð

Dear child humming
among the fallen

leaves   hummocks
buried bottles

you break paths
and name them

ʌð

(but what is fire
I mean, time, made of?

can you measure it?

does it fill you up
or leave you empty?)

ʌð

just knowing you
are out there
making trails
in the woods
laying down paths—

I say to myself
This is enough
nothing more
 could I ever
ask of you

ʌð

the stone in the path
turned dark  grew wings
first it sang  then it flew

ʌð

It was in the forest
of you, mother,
I made these paths 

inside your fallen
and dead  your ancient
middens  these paths
of mine  I carved
in you

ʌð

Fine brass fittings
I gave you  she said
so you can open
and close  years
on the seas
(wipe your glasses
polish your shoes)

ʌð

Here, she said
I will throw you
this cross-stitch! 

    Catch!

ʌð

How many times
did I say No 

ʌð

dear Mother –

        go ahead
look at the sun  

it’s your last day
on earth 

you need save
nothing any more

ʌð

I pull down the sky at night
take it into my arms  fold its vastness
into the basket at my feet

 

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