Poems & Essays

18 Sep

White Laurel

Toddlers to Teens No Response

The small branch I put in a vase
white as white were the flowers
didn’t dry or fade. It lingered
bright as an evergreen
though it is known
cut laurels don’t last.

It was meant to celebrate
vacations beginnings
and togetherness with my child.
Things changed.
The boy went.
I spent the summer alone.

In my grief
I left the flowers untouched.
Memories
of naïve enthusiasm.
Two months passed
and they didn’t wither.

Among darkness I spotted
curls of tender green.
The laurel was sprouting.
A soft carpet of roots
hiding underwater
laced like a bird nest.

Laurel isn’t aquatic.
This branch chose to stay.
Vagrant? Homeless?
Now a permanent guest
bridging over emptiness.
Harbinger of return.

 

 

 

Toti O’Brien is the Italian Accordionist with the Irish Last Name. She was born in Rome then moved to Los Angeles, where she makes a living as a self-employed artist, performing musician and professional dancer. Her work has most recently appeared in Calamus, Dying Dahlia, Circleshow, and Fire Poetry.

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18 Sep

Vigil

Babyhood No Response

I hold my breath
until I see his,
reassurance in the rhythm,
peace in the pattern,
my pulse steadied by his.
I stand guard,
somehow convinced
that my watchfulness
is the only thing
compelling him to take his next breath.
And then,
respite,
as the rise and fall of my chest
begins to match his,
tempo tranquil,
cadence calming,
his serenity my meditation,
and we sleep.

 

Kristen Wood is a mother of five, a writer, a reader, a student, and an aspiring librarian. She has had her work published in Mothers Always Write, Whisper and the Roar, Scary Mommy, and is an ongoing contributor to the online magazine Still Standing, She regularly laughs until she cries and cries until she laughs. She is a proud pop culture geek and a champion napper. Kris loves to make people laugh and to make people think, and if she can do both at the same time, even better.

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18 Sep

September

Toddlers to Teens No Response

The yoga instructor says,
Tense your muscles tight,
So we clench inward as still
as stones mortared into walls,
then release. This gives us lightness
as we gather our mats, rolling
their patterns inward. Day-
to-day I use this, to squeeze
fear farther into me,
so that like rocks metamorphosed,
it becomes something else:
the curved wave falling
into its crash, the small
shake in my mother’s hand
when she holds her water glass,
the space of sky squeezed
enough to spark lightning,
even our own bodies
are a compression of the moment
where luck meets molecules.
I gather my daughter carefully
above school blacktop,
fold her in my arms,
press her tightly to me,
then let go.

 

Alexandra Umlas lives in Huntington Beach, CA and is currently an MFA student in the Poetry program at California State University, Long Beach.

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18 Sep

My Daughters Will Never Know

Toddlers to Teens No Response

the joys of home economics,
the room full of do-gooders, helpers,
sewers, piecing together pillow cases

and aprons; smiling with roses
in their cheeks, with soft hands
and sugared smiles. My daughters

will not be taught how to decorate
a table, will not suck in their bellies
with books on their heads, shoulders

pressed back with the possibilities
of marriage and musical notes spun
from kitchens. They will not learn

how to clean up after cooking
bacon, to pour a curling ribbon of soap
into the hot pan, to wet paper towels,

throw them steaming
into the sizzle of grease.
How will they survive?

Who will tell them how
to avoid the steely prick of needles?
How will they protect themselves

from the slick jaws of fabric shears?
Both are aware their limbs
belong to them, both know

they are their own canvas—
they cannot be adorned.
They are the flowers and the lace.

 

 

Alexandra Umlas lives in Huntington Beach, CA and is currently an MFA student in the Poetry program at California State University, Long Beach.

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