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2011 selections

The Mom Egg

Sandra de Helen


MISSPENT MOTHERHOOD


i squandered my motherhood

mistaking it for my youth

believing that because i

was sixteen or twenty or

thirty i was entitled to

indulge in the activities of

youth.

scholarship, art, drinking,

unbridled sex.

dragging my children along

as if they were accessories

like pocketbooks

instead of easily bruised fruit

to be guarded from danger

tended like gardens

raised to be guardians

of the future

of their own futures


i rushed into adulthood

as if it were the answer

instead of the quest.

and therefore i lost

my opportunity to grow

into being grown

up – until my own

children were nearly

grown themselves.

they grew like weeds – no

nurturing, no watering.

they are not weeds.

my children are

wildflowers.

i am their mother

however nonchalant

i may have been.


Hear the poem here:

Marie Gauthier


MATINS


A heavy wreath of fatigue

rings her head—the baby

has foresworn sleep,


barely knitting one hour

to another—the days

smear together like old


bruises smudging skin. 

It’s 4 a.m.—for the moment

all sleep save her.


She rubs the crusted

rinds of her eyes, weighing

the worth of an hour’s


rest against the inexorable

violence of being woken—

as if she isn’t already


pinioned to the couch,

sleep’s hot breath 

a luminous psalm.

Cheryl Boyce-Taylor


GOOD TIMES

for Ceni


last night we were blues music

shadowing good times

afterwards a city cried out


claiming a stone wall

a hibiscus fence   a raffia door

sky dark and brooding with no stars


a sharp stone fell

into the great shoreline that is her body

her obsidian spine

my unbeatable raft

Photograph by Joanne G. Yoshida

Kelly Bargabos


NERVES


I was fascinated with the cigarette lighter in our station wagon. Push it in and wait for the moment when it popped back out and the orange circle was hot enough to start a fire. It seemed to make sense to use the cigarette lighter rather than try to strike a match while driving with trembling hands. My mother lights up her cigarette and inhales deeply as Karen Carpenter serenades us with her silky voice. “Why do people smoke?” I ask from the backseat of our station wagon. Not in an accusatory, judgmental way that people sometimes ask these type of questions, but in an innocent, curious way that seven year olds ask when they really wonder about things. I had no hidden agenda with my mother and her smoking. This was before children knew they should guilt their parents into quitting because of second hand smoke and the effects on their lungs. I was a thinker and always wanted to know the reason behind everything. 

I had a babysitter sitter once, Veronica, Ronny for short, who smacked me hard across the face because I asked her why too many times. Then she put me in solitary confinement for the rest of the day. I sat in the middle of an empty room with the door closed for hours. 

My mother glanced at me in the rearview mirror as she gave me her one word reply, “Nerves”. She said it so matter of fact, like I was supposed to know what it meant. Ahh, nerves, I say in wonderment to myself. I had no idea what nerves were, but apparently it was something that adults get. It sounded so mysterious, and slightly bad, not something you really wanted but had to deal with, like your period or the IRS. I wondered if nerves were the reason she never smiled or played with us. I wondered at what age I would get them.

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