Your Mother The Madwoman

Rae Rose

 

Bees crazy off nectar, darkest plums were turning black,
old ladies sat in their cars with the air on.

 

The woman dropped you off at the bottom of your hill
and you were plumper. They must have fed you well
in the child protection service. We were 12, I guess.

 

Your mother had just been shipped off
to an institution again. We walked to your house
so you could pick up some clothes
and found a pile of The National Geographic
in the driveway.  She had cut out pictures of women
and set the magazines on fire.
The women were in a pile, under a rock in the sun.

 

I think we laughed – but not at your dolls,
strewn across the house with their eyes cut out,
bleeding cotton up and down the hallway.

 

I watched your face as you looked around.
Too young to know any words to save anybody,
I wished it wasn’t your house.

 

Dolls who couldn’t see. Paper women under a rock.
Something about women – something about body –
what was she trying to silence?
We found a litter of puppies outside,
one of them was dead.

 

The others were healthy, so healthy.
How were they able to do it?
They survived somehow.
“Where should we take them?” you asked.
We understood we were on our own.

 

I buried the dead puppy with the paper women.
I don’t know why.
Something about women,
something about body,
trying to silence something
in the desert heat.

 

 

Rae Rose’s poetry and fiction have published in literary journals, including The Pedestal Magazine, Cicada, Earth’s Daughters, Today’s Alternative News, Contemporary World Literature: Journal for the Arts, The San Diego Poetry Annual and THEMA.

 

Bake Challah in Heels

Rae Rose

 

Martha Stewart would run for her life.
I twist dough into snakes, slam them on countertop.
Teacups rattle. I scream. All over the world,
Jewish women are braiding bread –
how do they do it so damn holy?
It wasn’t God I thought of when I punched this dough,
 but a man who tricked me, a man before that,
and the first man –  maybe I did think of God.
I punched someone’s dough face.

 

Out my window – a woman without a home
sleeps under a bridge. I punched whoever built this city,
invented these laws. How do holy women do it?
Pretty heads bowed over ovens, aprons dusted with sugar,
a sweet smile on every rosy face.
My kitchen? Hiroshima made of flour.
Egg shells litter counters as if I am a red-tailed hawk
stealing from nests, cracking eggs with beak —
can you create something holy if you are angry?
When God (supposedly) made the world, was He furious?
Is that why He made everything in the dark,
was He too scared to look?

 

I separate Challah, ripping out a piece of dough
like I am ripping out an eye –
that eye that saw his last trick,
that eye that saw me pull at my veins like cats cradle
and scrub my flesh with Brillo pads,
I am pulling out that eye – that stain –  that hurt –  from this braided body that is now so – so –

 

curvy. So female. 

 

I use my fingertips,
glaze Challah with egg whites.
It shimmers like moonlight hugging curves.
The heat will harden her, thicken her skin.
She will be able to take it. Take anything.
Pull down the moon– my moon –
– my light – my curves – my invention –
I am reinventing woman. My own recipe – no rib required.
I have created something holy in a world 
in which everything was already invented for me. Poorly.
This time I will change.
I look at the woman under the bridge.
Maybe this time, we’ll change everything.

 

 

 

Rae Rose’s poetry and fiction have published in literary journals, including The Pedestal Magazine, Cicada, Earth’s Daughters, Today’s Alternative News, CWLJA, The San Diego Poetry Annual and THEMA.

MY GRANDFATHER CHANGES HIS LAST NAME

Kate Harding

 

At the Grand Canyon Red Rock Motel
he signs  the register.  The shiny Buick out front
my grandmother holding the picnic basket
boiled chicken, she glances at the paper,
the familiar handwriting, the blue ink.
“Mr. and Mrs. Taylor! Am I some floozie?
You have to write a different name? Taylor?”
She tells the clerk, “We are married forty years.”
Grandpa  says nothing, steps out for the valise.
Polished shoes, a tuft of thin blond hair
slicked back  under the Panama hat,
his purple shirt looks like an orchid
in the Arizona  heat.

In the hot motel room, they sit on twin beds.
Whir of the fan the only sound. She unpins
her long hair. “One of your practical jokes?”
My grandfather, the lawyer says,
“Taylor is now our legal name.”
She sighs, thinking about engraved flatware,
cloth napkins, tea towels, the Hs she sewed
on percale sheets and pillowcases.
“I’ve been Mrs. Herman since I was a girl.
What about your brothers and sister?
Who goes and changes his own family name?”
His jacket and tie still on, he sits stiffly.
She is already down to her pink corset.

”Meshugener,” she mutters.
She has never called him a name
directly before. Plenty, “Blitz Krieg,”
“the dictator” out of his hearing.
He opens the paper he bought in Kingman,
Senator Joe McCarthy with his wide forehead
and dark eyebrows glares at him in black and white.
She studies her husband as if he were a rare
eggshell brocade she has never seen before.
The bump on his head, a wound from a rock
thrown by a Jew-hating soldier in Russia years ago
shines in the dim motel light.

She thinks of the stories she heard, her husband
taught himself English  while driving a bus,
the book in his lap,  eye  on the road,
how proud he was to follow Teddy  Roosevelt
up San Juan hill, how he always stopped  to salute
the statue of the soldier at  the Veterans Cemetery.
He loves this country that gave him his freedom.

Sweat, which he calls perspiration dripping
down his neck he  sat bent all summer
over the McCarthy  hearings
as if he were sitting shive.

“Meshugener,” she whispers again.
“You think the fat Senator is after you.”
She frees a chicken leg from its wax paper
and hands it  to my grandfather,
his hat still on his lap.

 

 

                                            

Kate Harding is a Pushcart Prize nominee in both fiction and poetry. Her work has appeared in numerous journals including Contemporary World Literature: Journal for the Arts, Poetry International,  Perigee, Today’s Alternative News  and the San Diego Poetry Annual. New work will be forthcoming in The Hummingbird Review.
                                                                                                        

Deadline

Eve Lyons

 

It is spring

everyone is breeding:

Two co-workers,

the hawks in a building

on Fresh Pond Highway,

the geese in the Chestnut Hill reservoir,

and Phoebe, the hummingbird in California

everyone’s watching on the internet.

It seems everyone is breeding

except me. 

When I was twelve

I played M.A.S.H.

tried to predict

the essential things in life:

Who I’d marry,

what kind of car I’d own,

what kind of house I’d live in,

where I’d live,

how many children I’d have.

I remember being so sure

I’d have kids

by the time I was twenty-eight,

I remember thinking twenty-eight

seemed so far away

so very old.

I’m nine years past

my expiration date

and counting.

 

 

Photo by J.L. WOODWARD

Eve Lyons is a poet, fiction writer, and playwright who is living in Boston, MA. She has published in Fireweed,  Labyrinth,  Concho River Review, Barbaric Yawp, Women’s Words,  Woven, Sapphic Ink, Texas Observer, Houston Literary Review, Word Riot, protestpoems, and two different anthologies.  

Afterward what Remains

Marge Piercy

 

What marks does a marriage leave
when one of them has gone
into another entanglement?
 
A bottle of wine chosen, forgotten.
A old cat dying slowly of kidney
failure.  Some books no longer
 
valued, music of another decade
they used to dance to, back
when dancing was together.
 
A green wool sweater abandoned
in the corner of a closet.  Railroad
tie steps they buried in the hillside.
 
Trees they planted now taller
than the house. A mask, a wooden
necklace from foreign travels. 
 
Pain eroding like a dying pond
from the edges but still deep
enough in the center to drown.

  

  

  

 

 

MARGE PIERCY

Marge Piercy has published 18 poetry collections including Colors Passing Through Us, What Are Big Girls Made Of?, The Art of Blessing the Day, and most recently The Crooked Inheritance, all from Knopf.  She has written seventeen novels, most recently Sex Wars from Morrow/Harper Collins, who published her memoir, Sleeping with Cats.  Two of her earlier novels, Vida and Dance the Eagle to Sleep are being reprinted by PM Press in 2011. In March, Knopf published a second volume of Marge’s selected poems, The Hunger Moon.