Wednesday, 16 August 2017


by Lesléa Newman

Sit beside him on a folding chair beside your mother’s bed.
Place a box of tissues between you.
Watch him take your mother’s hand in both his own
and stroke it like a small wounded animal.
Do not speak.
Do not turn on the TV.
Do not shatter the silence around you.
Let time pass.
Listen to your father sigh.
Listen to your father sob.
Hand your father a tissue whenever necessary.
Ask him if he wants food.
Ask him if wants water.
Ask him if he wants to take a walk.
Do not press him when he says no to everything.
Remember the one thing he wants is impossible to give him.
Let more time pass.
When your father gets up to go to the bathroom and says,
“Hold Mom’s hand,” hold your mother’s hand.
When he returns, give your mother’s hand back to your father.
It belongs to him.
Do not tell your father what the hospice nurse told you:
you need to let go so she can let go.
When the sun sets, gather the darkened room
around your shoulders like a cloak.
See your father’s undying love
take your mother’s breath away.

* * * * *

“How To Watch Your Father Watch Your Mother Die” copyright ©2015 Lesléa Newman, from I Carry My Mother (Headmistress Press, Sequim, WA). Reprinted by permission of the author. Here is a book trailer for I Carry My Mother:

Lesléa Newman is a poet, fiction writer, essayist, children’s book writer and anthologist whose 70 books include the poetry collections, Still Life with Buddy, Nobody’s MotherSigns of Love, and October Mourning: A Song for Matthew Shepard (novel-in-verse) which received a Stonewall Honor from the American Library Association. Ms. Newman’s literary awards include poetry fellowships from the National Endowment for the Arts and the Massachusetts Artists Foundation; the Burning Bush Poetry Prize; and second place runner-up in the Solstice Literary Journal poetry competition. From 2008-2010 she served as the poet laureate of Northampton, Massachusetts. Currently she is a faculty member of Spalding University’s low-residency MFA in Writing program. Her most recent poetry collection, I Carry My Mother, received the 2016 Golden Crown Literary Society Poetry Award and was named a “Must-Read” title by the Massachusetts Center for the Book.

Tuesday, 15 August 2017


by Alicia Vandevorst

There, the shimmery, the matte cotton, the frayed, the tufted,
the mass of fabric scraps that can’t be thrown away, and my mother
who fingers fabrics sideways, not turning till she wants a length;
she keeps her scraps, the color field, the pool of individuals 
apart, tousled to rouse her sense of depth, the potency 
the field reflects: this with this with this and that or that.

Last night I dreamed a pile of fabric scraps, a fabulous pink
metallic wing, a ginger wool, greens of undersides, 
and flashes of tips of more, a mound a woman formed, to save
and give away to me the chance to bring the scraps together;
and here I see my lists as colors: the Sanskrit lover, gardener,
mother, poet, the stomps I dance, the tendency to sit
and watch a while, translator without fluency...

or see the field of gorgeous skins: the russet, the burnt umber,
the pale of pith, the faintest yellow as the cast of a set sun,
the shiny loamy ones, the bone, the unglazed porcelain,
the scaly green, the silver wet, the white fur, the roan...
as if pieced together to form a quilt whose seams reveal
binding life, a whole that shifts together, flows and rests.

Monday, 14 August 2017

The Day Mandela Died

by Alicia Vandevorst

Now, these years, with tinsel through my hair, my grandmother
sits, hands slackened between her thighs, and watches
the wash of sunlight through my mother’s window; that
is beautiful, she says, in her empty wasp-nest voice,
all day the wind has shaken the shadows on the walls
and the potted flowers glow, it has been so quick, this day,
she says, at last, I am so happy just to sit and watch.

But in my sorrow I washed two towels with the delicates
and in my rush to fix the sheets, I left the door ajar
and the heat goes out that my husband wanted in, and that is like before, 
when the cat ran wild from the opened cage into the winter wood, 
with his limp, at dusk, he cried in answer, but no longer came to my hands.

What hands can do, that is what has passed from her
and both sun and shadow flash with glory like accomplishments;
but she does not wrestle with her powers anymore
and can enjoy the whole in passive gratitude.
I wonder how my death will be; that I may sit in sunlight, 

warm with impartial heat, bony frame wrapped in a shawl
and the last glimpse is of red, lit leaves.
This is a way I might let light usher me out,
as if the sun’s pressure became more real
than the stories in these busy bones.

Tonight, I wrap beside my sleepy daughter,
hold her moist, plump hand, again,
sing, dee, dee, dee, and swing low
sweet chariot, coming for to carry, and
she asks for me to stay a little longer.

Sunday, 13 August 2017

Eleven Daffodils

by Meryl Natchez

What am I to make
of these daffodils,
perfumed strumpets, picked
who knows where
by who knows whom
possibly genetically
modified, commercially
fertilized, spritzed
with pesticide?

These questions did not arise
when I tossed
the budded stems
in my shopping cart
on a chill afternoon:
essence of spring
for a dollar twenty-nine.

Now they sit
and radiate scent,
molecules of daffodil
mixing it up
with molecules of oxygen
all about my desk
until I am dizzy
with this year’s crop
of praise
and regret.

* * * * *

“Eleven Daffodils” first appeared in Canary, Spring 2014.

Saturday, 12 August 2017


by Meryl Natchez

I like it that they give robot babies to teens
to simulate parenthood,
that the robots are programmed to cry if they
aren’t held. I think the teen mother has
to hold them—no one else can make them
shut up—but maybe I am only
imagining that, maybe that’s a level of need
only real babies demonstrate.
Because a robot can’t prepare you.
Even if it cries all the time,
it isn’t wired
into your nervous system.
You can’t imagine the despair and rage snarled within
the besotted adoration
that tiny body wrenches from you
at birth.

This is the blood vow,
the one you cannot break.
You can barely acknowledge, even to yourself,
the force of the urge for escape,
and you’re lying if you say you don’t
understand how anyone could bash
a baby’s brains against a wall.
With luck,
you don’t do it.

* * * * *

“Motherhood” first appeared in the anthology: The Mamas and the Papas, City Works Press, 2010

Friday, 11 August 2017

Time Doesn’t Heal
( For my dear sister, Kay )

by Kim Sisto Robinson

Not a day unfolds without
thoughts of you. Your auburn
hair falls over my face smelling
of lilacs, Tabu perfume, summer.


Time doesn’t stop.
It continues ticking as if
it knows nothing, sees nothing,
feels nothing.


When I think about your murder,
my organs twist and turn inside my body
like hot fists, angry stones. My bones splinter
into sharp fangs.

Hurting me.

Time doesn’t heal.
It makes you remember, makes
you forget, makes you love fiercely,
madly, completely…

as if tomorrow will never come.

* * * * *

Kim Sisto Robinson, whose sister was murdered by a husband who then killed himself on May 26, 2010, asks that her poem be accompanied by The Domestic Abuse Hotline phone number: 1-800-799-7233.

Thursday, 10 August 2017

by Miriam O'Neal

Green as moss under the pines on Beaver Dam Brook,
clear as a spring that feeds a bog, we married for love.

All that day the clouds played havoc with the light,
blew a tune out of a brown jug— like the Gurnet on foggy nights.

One shoulder tucked against my ribs the sudden pop
as of champagne uncorked; lips milk blistered,

slack in sleep, you dreamed your way to me. Here, take my glass
heart, before the shadows spread like owls’ wings.

He loved me. He couldn’t forget he ever said that.

Blue baby. Red too. He saved you; cord around your neck like kite string
Nurse, there’s something wrong here.

Pelvic bones shifted like tectonic plates
to sieve you into this world—
Here. I give you this.