Poems & Essays

24 Aug

After a Week on Her Turf

Taking Flight No Response

If you have to leave your daughter
in her adopted town
2000 miles or more from the city
where you live, and this means
a flight with a Denver stop-over

book it for early or mid-afternoon 
so that breakfast is at leisure
in a sun-striped dining room
where a sprig of cherry blossoms
frame a window that shows
a road stretching to the mountains.
In your bowls are strawberries

while her hoop earrings swing
with a shine that echoes 
the glint in her eyes.
She wears brand-new jeans,
hiking shoes for scuffy trails,
a sweater blue as sky,
and is planning a walk, upon 
your departure, down the hill
to get papayas for lunch.
And if you depart
while the day is still young

it will make it easier than leaving
cloaked by the night 
when you stare down from the plane
at the lights spreading glitter
and she but a single one
somewhere amongst them all

Author of five collections of poetry, Shoshauna Shy’s poems often deal with the exhilaration and challenges of parenting. They have been published in print and electronically; as videos, inside taxis, community cars, and on the hind quarters of Madison Metro buses. She usually gets ideas for new poems while stuck doing something else. 

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24 Aug

Cliff Face

Toddlers to Teens No Response

David shaves his father
Every week
A pilgrimage, a conversation
Because the nurses are not good enough

For a job only a son can do
A return, a tithe
He guides his hand the way
His father once did
Along the paths now trembling hands
Once had swept with such surety

Nothing is sure now:
What an unruly son learns at the mirror
(Pressed against it as his father guides)
Is this – a meditation in reverse –
Scraping away at the old each day, each week

Later becomes a homage at the cliff face
The sweet-sourness of breath and skin

Today the razor wrapped in its innocence
Lies on the kitchen table
There will be no more missives, no more service
Perhaps David will shave his own beard now
At the alter of his basin and his grief

Louella Sullivan is a mom, English teacher and Pilates instructor. She completed an MA in Creative Writing at Rhodes in 2014. Her poems, described as “poised and vivid”, have appeared in Aerodrome, New Contrast, New Coin and Itch. In 2017, her first poetry collection “Salt” was published. It was hailed as “a delicately woven account of pregnancy and birth.” She is presently working on a second book and dreaming of a PhD.

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24 Aug

Vessel

Toddlers to Teens No Response

Mother is another name for ​Hold this

A hungry fisted baby
A red-wrought toddler
A pocket of treasures
that can’t jump on the trampoline
Or go into the bath

She holds acorns, lucky beans, half licked sweets, a dead butterfly, a precious rock, damp socks

And once the dried out husk of a lizard

Her tissue paper belly holds the imprints of tiny bodies once hers alone
Her blood all the memories her children shed before they left
Her body is the kitchen drawer where we put things that have no other space

Mom watch me.
Are you listening to me?
Here, come with me, quickly Mom!

Hold THIS​ she says to herself
A warm little body in her bed
A rush of hugs in the morning
Kitchen dance parties and bedtime stories

Hold it all before she holds their angry independence
And the moment they see she is not steel and fire

She will hold this disappointment too
With lightened fingers
An offering not a curse

Louella Sullivan is a mom, English teacher and Pilates instructor. She completed an MA in Creative Writing at Rhodes in 2014. Her poems, described as “poised and vivid”, have appeared in Aerodrome, New Contrast, New Coin and Itch. In 2017, her first poetry collection “Salt” was published. It was hailed as “a delicately woven account of pregnancy and birth.” She is presently working on a second book and dreaming of a PhD.

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24 Aug

Hansel and Gretel

Toddlers to Teens 2 Responses

Dead of night, winter chill
We feel the snowflakes land upon our skin
Like hot pokers sinking slowly,
Steam lifting as the sting seeps into bone.

I bury you close in my chest,
Your long lashes catching the flurries
A fringe of white to frame the pure brown
Of your sweet hazelnut iris.

My tears add a splash of blue
Cascading down onto your upturned face,
A platter to hold my sorrows as they run
Down your nose to freeze on the icy floors.

You are long past the point of crying;
I am long past the point of aching.
Together we survive; somehow.
This is our second year against the bitter cold.

Your gentle belly growls as we pass 
The street-lined silver cans; so I dig. 
A core of an apple isn’t much, but I let you nibble
Tiny teeth gnawing, lips puckered to spit the seeds. 

A breadcrumb trail showing us the way back home
When there is no home at all. 
I’d gather the crumbs and sow them into the apples of your cheeks;
Ripe again for the picking.

Ambrielle Butler is an emerging poet from Texas and stay-at-home mother. She started her Instagram poetry page (@a.j.butler.poetry) in October 2019 and continues to share short pieces of poetry with her 1900+ followers daily. She has a bachelor’s degree in microbiology from Brigham Young University.

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