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.