Poetry Friday: “Rain”

rain on the window of a car with yellow and purple light from the cars illuminating the droplets.The emotional landscape of motherhood can often be hard to describe and is underrepresented in genres such as poetry. As a poet and mother of a two-year old with a new baby on the way, I appreciated “Rain” by Tara Bray and found it very instructive on several levels. In this candid poem, a “family of flight” rests at a truck stop. The mother, still awake, observes her sleeping husband and daughter and affectionately compares them to birds, husband as “flycatcher, scrub jay, kingfisher” and daughter as “little chickadee.” While the family is placeless and neither here nor there, Bray’s devotional voice both grounds and comforts me. She writes, “There’s only night and rain, husband, babe, sleep, / this black string of small good things.” Amidst uncertainty and the obscurity of a dark, rainy night Bray celebrates her tribe, her “two glimpses / of the afterlife.” She is enlivened, versus saddened, by the sound of the rain and her hope, as well as her honesty, are stirringly contagious.

—Jessica Gigot [Read more…]


two wrestlers on a matMy son who is autistic wrestles in high school because he doesn’t mind pain. My other kids would cry when they stubbed their toes playing in the yard, but this son of mine, more than once came to me with gaping wounds needing stitches and hardly a tear in his eye.

Now he has a long, inflexible body, paired with a will to survive, if not to win, and watching him endure can be nearly intolerable to me. On the wrestling mat, so many of the larger dramas of his life play out in microcosm, the struggle to know where his arms and legs are at all times and to maneuver them deftly, the challenge to look two or three steps ahead of where he is, planning accordingly to get there, and so much self-defense.

I’ve often worried about the effects of compounding his difficulties by living them both in life, and again in the metaphor of sport. But he is eager to do it.

I took the smaller kids last night to watch a meet, and there’s always some hot dog wrestler who gets up to wrestle weighing 160 or something, relatively brawny but lean, and his opponent, usually from our team, clearly weighs the same but in unequal distributions. For instance their hot dog wrestler is shaped like an inverted triangle, and our wrestler is shaped like a hot dog, in a bun.

The match ends in a swift pin, the referee slaps the mat, and then the inverted triangle hot dog hops up, while simultaneously pulling on his singlet to clear a wedgie, pumping a fist upward in victory.

I don’t know if it’s just because I have not experienced what it is like to mother what many would term “a champion,” but the display makes me want to get up from the bleachers, dripping children though I may be, make my way to the mat, and punch the kid in the face. [Read more…]

Glorying in Flawless Skin and God’s Love

by nerissas ring on flickrDriving in the car recently, my daughter pulled down the visor in front of her and opened the mirror. Her hair was in a side ponytail draped over her right shoulder. She wore a black and white plaid beret.

“I really like this hat and hair thing I have going on today.”

“Yes, very cute,” I said.

She’s twelve, the age of fashion daring; young enough to have some really crazy ideas of what might work, and unaffected enough to pull it off.

She looked and smiled at herself a couple times. The car is such a good place to primp. The natural light illuminates every stray hair, every irregular pore, the butter shade of your front teeth contrasting with the toffee shade of your incisors.

But stranded in a car with only passing cornfields and a forty-year-old mother for views, I feared she may become captive of her own reflection.

“I have pretty good skin,” she said. “No zits yet at all.”

Her genealogy doesn’t bode well for clear skin through adolescence. “Don’t get too attached,” I said. [Read more…]

Poetry Friday: “Hive Boxes” by Megan Snyder-Camp

The sounds in this poem! I love its compactness and humming—its slender shape on the page, just like a tower of hive boxes. Bookended by two phrases that particularly sing—“lit hum” and “known oak”—this poem concentrates its gaze on the compelling paradoxes alive in our world, visible and audible in those very phrases. The hive box hums with an otherworldly aliveness that the speaker registers as light—it is simultaneously ordinary and extraordinary. The oak tree is clearly familiar to the speaker, and yet its proximity to the wonder and novelty of the bee hives exposes its transcendent nature, too. In the light of the hive, the tree is “risen / from its place.” In between these two arresting images, the speaker seems to receive a vision of her place in this mystery, this suspension between the divine and the daily—a division that finally turns out to be illusion. In this place, the “split panic” of a mother’s mind is no different from the intense purpose of the bees. Here, the “wild distance / folding” reveals that human work is not separate from the beauty of the natural world, whether we are walking the “vacation road” or back in the city. [Read more…]

Poetry Friday: “The News”

11793323376_2b9390cd6e_zWhat do I do with the daily news of disasters? Do I mumble a quick prayer for the victims, then turn to my day’s to-do list? Do I ever pause and ponder: this disaster might have struck those I love, or even me? These are the questions that Shara McCallum turns over in “The News.” Her imagination doesn’t flinch from detailing the horrors. Yet she is also self-protective, and she knows this. I admire how she keeps her eyes both shut and open to the dreadful events that life can deal us. And I admire especially the painful closing two stanzas: the piercing image of that mother somewhere whose “hem of life” will be “snagged, /from here forward”: from the instant she learns of her child forever lost.

—Peggy Rosenthal [Read more…]