Poems & Essays

23 Feb

It’s Time

General/Column No Response


No one ever says much

about the mother of the groom,

so she didn’t know

that even if she survived

the plaintive love

of the tenor’s song

she would not be safe

when the crowd dropped

into the wordless it’s time

and the groom stepped up to the altar.


A silent vacuum,

that inward gasp

opening itself

before an unexpected sound,

began in her.

An uncontrollable sob

rising from the groin

of the earth used her

to breathe out a millennia

of partings. The shuddering

walls of her womb reached

for each other, empty hands

groping for what they once held.


She remembers just yesterday

waiting for the contractions

to begin, the pain

of his skinned knee

or latest disappointment

to ease, for his letter or car

to pull safely into the drive.


He can’t get married;

he’s her firstborn

and he just turned three.

She wants to take him in her arms,

look into his deep bright eyes and ask

for just a little more time.

Irene Howe is the author of The Song She Guards (Biddle Publishing Company 1995) in which this poem first appeared.

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