Mother’s Day

Michael Parkes, bust and tiger on redMichael Parkes

Yvonne Zipter


I find my arms
folded across myself, a breast
in each palm, cupped there
as if in offering. My mother’s hands
were empty. Phantom flesh
let her fingers fall
to the exact truth of her ribs—
ribs and the knot of scars.
Morning must have carried her, light
as luck, into the embrace of grief,
its touch breath-

Michael Parkes, sirens

Sarah J. Sloat

Dear Scum

Many mornings I’ve seen you
trolling bellydown

around the margin of the river,
lead grey as a ruined tooth.

It’s been a shock to me

a shock to watch

you grow legs
and walk.

Once I felt you smudged
under a counter, once
in the thumbhole of a bowling ball

but mostly you’re forming –
your foam smoulders, pustules

bumping up against the harbor rocks.

Even on earth’s most angelic morning,
mosquitoes trundle your puddles,

fungal. Dear Scum, of course
there are others.
Even before I knew you

their odor corroded the weft of the lawn.

Scum, you’ll never lift a leg
high enough to piss past
the lip of your own spittoon.

Scum, stay away

stay way
way far away

from my daughter.

[previously published in Weave]

Michael Parkes, tigers and pool

Sandy Longhorn

Choosing Not to Bear

Born in the glassy hour of daybreak,
             third girl child
                                    wrapped again in love,
I somehow missed the lessons
          in the laws
                   that govern mothering,
          was more intent
on hunting the light-eyed moon,
blooms and the hummingbird’s green feather.

Now, as the hourglass of my womb empties,
          I refuse to turn
                               the moonlight sands
on end again. My grandmother
          becomes a bird
                             that hums, breaking
          the shell of the day,
her hands clocking my married
yet my empty womb is a bursting star,

and her eyes fall needle-sharp and blue
          on my barren belly.
                             Meanwhile, my mother
lines her life with the silver and gold
          of her last,
                             her starburst daughter.
          She neglects to reset
the clock’s hands when it loses time,
a sharp needle and sews closed another tear.

Her blue eyes mark a vision of love
          loosely wrapped
                             in the silver lining
of a choice not easy for any of us to bear.

[previously published in Zone 3, reprinted from The Girlhood Book of Prairie Myths (Jacar Press, 2013)]

Michael Parkes, letter and leopard

Martha Silano

Why I Had Children

Albert Bierstadt’s Half Dome illumes from across the room.
My daughter runs up that’s the one I want to draw pulls from her bag

a stubby pencil, sketches the buck in the foreground while I study
the placard, light as a symbol of Western-Expansion promise,

but she’s tugging my arm don’t write! (Imagine Bishop trailed
by a six-year old through Rio de Janeiro, Petropolis, Boston,

Nova Scotia …). Now we’re admiring a Liberian bird mask
meant to be worn while singing thanks to the hornbill

for bringing the palm nut (also to the parakeet for cracking
the palm nut open). Speaking of cracking open, now she’s airing

her views on the photographs of rugged logger he-men (boring), asking
Where’s that mouse? so we’re off to the giant black rodent

perched on a sleeping man’s chest this sculpture’s about a nightmare
which I have to agree, which I also nod when she shares

the Picasso sculpture resembles a sausage (would I rather
be childless?). After the rat, her favorite piece a stuffed tom

cozily snoozing atop an African drum. She prefers the intricate
ivory carvings to the Rothko, the scrimshaw salt cellar

with frolicsome alligators to the Gorky titled How My Mother’s
Embroidered Apron
Unfolded in My Life. Hadn’t given much thought

till now to the trans-Saharan salt trade—what it must’ve been like
for the miners in 15th century Sierra Leone, who shipped the grains

from the desert to Portugal. But she’s got me by the arm (when
would Bishop have asked “Why, oh why, the doily?”), swears the cat

has changed positions, both of us with a sudden urge to pet it.

Michael Parkes, lifted tiger cub

Molly Spencer

Argument for Staying

Because she always leaves
the spine of a book split
in her hands. And doorless—
the kitchen, her red
clenched heart. Because still
she tries to let that knot
of blood and muscle
loosen into something
easier—a slow breeze
kind of dance
with the world, a sway
maybe. Because it’s true
there’s always something
fevering on the stove,
thick stew of sticking it out,
shriek of boiling
water. All of it—
the book, the heart,
the stove. The window
is what she wants most
of all, the view it tends
in its warped sill
and whatever rolling
hills or seas are past it.
Because behind her, the door
of what she has opens.
And their voices
clinking through it
like the day’s loose change.

Michael Parkes, eggs

One response to “Mother’s Day”

  1. Maureen says:

    Wonderful images for this excellent poetry. Great feature, Kathleen!

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