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marianne Nov 2018
My mothers tell me
not with pearls in pretty velvet boxes
or words in leather-bound books
proclaimed,
but in buried memory and coiled threads
stitched together over generations—
who i am

head down pattern
repeated, deaf to its echo
ocean blue over prairie wheat over
thick mud brown turns murky
winding spinning battening
fabric woven—

a kind of fate

destined, we are women without men—
all to our children, knotted hands uncomplaining, holding
deepest love so deep it holds too tightly
standing boldly outside
the measure

obedient, we are women armed—
sharp eyed ironclad we stubbornly
manage life
mitigating disaster, securing the fray
keeping watch

doomed, we are women hard-boiled—
knowing loss, we look neither left nor right
reaching only to gods
and goddesses for friendship,
lonesome

until one day empty
and by the grace of god, I pause—
turn my eyes
and see my sisters too
marianne Nov 2018
not my mother, but
those before
were teachers of stillness—
to choose it, feel whole in it
bow to it
and wait…

across oceans
my mothers wrote their stories with pencil,
or fingers in thin air
words carried, indelibly
over miles and mountains
in strands and time—

waiting to be found

I see them sometimes
caught in a turning breeze
suspended in Fall colours

clinging to another mother’s web

I feel their warmth in the weak winter sun
more persistent now
following the horizon

I hear them in my dreams, the anguished ones
lead-heavy and fallen
overgrown with raveled life
and rusted

On my tongue melting like honeycake

Rising in wood fire
and spring soil

they are my words now
to tend to, crystalline
and holy

I wait
and i sing
marianne Oct 2018
born into an ethic of separate
and apart, knows nothing of the promise of oneness
and the slow release of held breath when I glimpse
that I’m not.

my foremothers in the summer kitchen, preserving
(1 part berries : 1 part sugar, splash of lemon)
lived the kinship of shovel sun soil hands
jam on buttered bread.

heads bowed under kerchief, shushing children, devoted
(1 part fervour : 1 part obedience, splash of sorrow)
sang the hymns of their mothers on hard benches in one voice,
one breath.

but the air is made of argon too, and contains
the breath of all others, the ones not on hard benches, or making jam
no lines in the sand made of belief or blood
not them, just us.

today with my own shovel, sifting through roots and buds
(1 part rage : 1 part faith, splash of sorrow)
I sing “Ain’t got no, I got life” at full volume with Nina, two voices
same breath.
Here is the awesome Nina Simone song I mention:
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=L5jI9I03q8E&t=0s&list=PLkbO-DIg2u3X0gIUVKrjY4mV7YRg9rJCL&index=24
marianne Oct 2018
I am
born on the prairie, stark clad
blue sky desert, blacktop desert, canola yellow desert
small in the great space
between us

I am
born of the mountains, wrapped
in forest standing strong-faced and tall, my
companions, rooted
my teachers

I am
born of the quiet
meadowlark prints in bright white snow, the buzz
and thrum of tall grass prairie quiet
measure of my soul

I am
born of bleached fluorescent flicker
drawn into the whirling hurry
longing for rainfall and
idleness

I am
born into the faith of my fathers, solemn
like their God, and righteous
holding fast to the book of their fathers
unwavering

I am
born of the rhythm of my mothers
of life-force and flutter
small hands and steaming pots in a hot kitchen
my church

I am
born of ghosts and tiny monsters
the hollow between their aching past
and tangled present,
alien

I am
born of old world order imposed
on new world freedom—
the image shifts
and I blur

I am
born of memory, my fingers carry secrets
daughter of the many mothers before me, their lives
tell the story
of mine

I am
born of the unknown, a swell in the stream
that spills into the ocean, I am
mother of many daughters
to come

Tell me who you are...
marianne Nov 2018
the day before grief pulled up
with moving van and solemn promise
it was summer,
and i was wearing a cotton print dress,
yellow flowers and bare feet
or maybe it was my mother

that day, the day before
she was swirling slow motion
like in a movie, face to the sun flashing
through young leaves
making patterns,
arms wide

that day, the day before
i snuck a zwieback from the summer kitchen
and watched melting butter make
golden pools,
some dripped onto my dress
but i didn’t worry

that day, the day before the cold snap
wicked north wind,
the sun shone
and we were warm

butter still melts our hearts
marianne Nov 2018
to take pieces of land, like pie
purchased and stolen, like monopoly
and make it into something else,
like Europe

this was our promise

so like good soldiers
we planted our rows
cottonwood manioc peas and beans
painted flowers on walls
and floors, like our mothers
built porches for rocking chairs
to gather the children
and tell them all about it,
like refugees

the roots are deep now
but the ancient fear deeper
we glance over our shoulders, still
suspicious of our luck
awaiting the act of god that
will surely come,
like karma

— The End —