Poems & Essays

14 May

First Muse

General/Column No Response

When she’d hand the rope to me
she could’ve said, Here, jump
on out of my way—

I’ve got laundry to hang,
supper to cook, a shirt to mend,
this book I want to read.

She’d already taught me
Miz Mary Mac, those silver buttons,
all the other rhymes.

Now she was teaching me
about metaphor, otherwise known as
pretend. She could’ve said, Here,

this is a snake—pretend
it wants to bite you, but
she was not teaching me to fear.

She could’ve said, Here,
find someone to play tug-of-war,
but she was not teaching me

to require the presence
of others. She could’ve said,
Here, this is how you make

a noose, but she was not
teaching me violence
or hatred. No,

my mother handed me
one end of that rope
secured in a stiff knot

and said, Here,
this is a microphone.
What can you sing?


Kory Wells lives in a mostly-empty nest near Nashville, Tennessee, where she advocates for the arts, democracy, afternoon naps, and other good causes. Author of HEAVEN WAS THE MOON (March Street Press) and winner of the 2016 HeartWood Broadside Series, Kory mentors poetry students in the low-residency program MTSU Write and curates a monthly poetry reading series and open mic. Her mother and first muse, Judy Lee Green, is also a writer. Read more of Kory’s work and connect with her at korywells.com.

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