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.

 

HOLLYHOCKS

Kate Harding

 

Three days after my mother died,
her hollyhocks tumbled down
under their own weight. My father had
disappeared. I had eaten the last
of her meatloaf wrapped in wax paper.

She had waved me out of her kitchen.
“No need to learn to cook. You’ll be
a professor.” She ground her own meat,
the red strings wriggling like worms.

Though I only had my learner’s permit
I drove her old Plymouth to the store.

There were whole aisles in Safeway she
never went down. That first day I bought
Bird’s Eye frozen broccoli and macaroni
and cheese.

The mothers of my friends gossiped about me,
told their daughters, “Stay away from her.
Who knows what’s going on in that house?
Parties. Boys.”

There were no parties. No boys. Nights,
I was so lonesome I would call the Time
and a lady would say it is now three oh three.
I made JELLO and Swanson’s turkey dinners.

I asked the gym teacher, perky Miss Butler,
a woman whom a month before I would never
have talked to, about salads. Miss Butler coached

the  Sergeantnettes,  a girls’ marching drill team.
She told me she had polio as a child. I tucked
that away. People could survive all sorts of things.
She said, “Wash the lettuce first.”

I fried hamburger meat, flames jumping
wildly under the iron skillet. A month later,
my father reappeared, moved us to a dingy
apartment across town.

Nights, I would sit in my mother’s car.
in front of our old house. The new owner,
a gardener, staked my mother’s hollyhocks.
I couldn’t see the pale pink, ruby, and yellow
flowers in the dark. But I knew they were there.

 

 

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.
 

How I Learned About Courage

Marge Piercy

 

In one corner of our livingroom
just 11 by 12, a cabinet radio
loomed.  I’d run home from school
and then turn it on to Terry
and the Pirates, Jack Armstrong
All American Boy.  There was
never then a kick-ass woman
although on Terry, the Dragon
Lady smoldered with menace.
I liked her but wasn’t supposed to.
 
I would close the wooden doors
on me, secluded with adventure
I preferred to the playground
fights I couldn’t avoid, dirty
Jew, four-eyed squinty freak.
Preferred to the neighbors’
beatings, loud quarrels, breaking
dishes, slow deaths from cancer.
fast from factory mishaps. Rape
of a classmate.  Her disgrace.
 
Broadcast dangers always came
out right in the end.  Serials
funded by breakfast cereal
fed my addiction in the cave
of radio as adrenalin flooded
my childish brain.  Years later
how many times I risked my life
for a cause, jumping barricades.
gassed, crossing borders clan-
destinely, become the hero who
crawled into my small pink ears.

 

 

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.