The Woman in the House

By Bridget Grieve-Carlson

At night, as a teenager,
I’d watch Fred and Ginger,
the dance team on the television.
This was in the days when Fred was considered the expert,
long before it ever occurred to anyone,
Even while we were watching,
Ginger was doing it all
backwards,
in heels.

One night my mother walked through the hallway
from the kitchen
to find me lying on the living room sofa,
subdued by the August heat.
There is so little time
between finishing the dishes and deciding to talk to me
that when she comes up and stands in front of me,
blocking the television
with her plump pregnant belly,
water drops still hang from her usually ragged fingernails,
giving them the appearance of long perfect nails.

It isn’t until years later that
I remember what she said to me that night.
You know love isn’t really like that,
she said, as she turned to Fred and Ginger.
But I wasn’t listening.
I loved anything perfect back then.
I loved the first few days after my mother got her hair done
and nothing she did would mess it.
And when she would dress for a party in a new, clean floral dress
and put on makeup,
and gone
were the runs in her nylons,
stains on her clothes,
and dark circles under her eyes.

I wasn’t listening that night.
I was marveling at her perfect fingernails
and the way the droplets of water that hung from them
glistened by the light of the television.
She was just my mother back then.
The woman in the house
who did everything,
while pregnant,
with kids in diapers.
________________________________________________________________
Bridget Grieve-Carlson is a mother of three children, a writer, and a para- educator in an autistic support classroom. She has published short stories in Central Pennsylvania Magazine and Storyteller. She has also written a novel which she hopes to publish in the near future.

Translation

By Erin Malone

Down from the ladder of sleep

my son comes, taller than the night before

 

and I a fraction smaller,

allowed a one-armed hug. Next door

 

an earthmover, god of this

neighborhood, is chewing up the scenery,

 

its vibration in the cages

of my eyes—yet the animals aren’t rattled.

 

The knots of his knees disguised

in new muscle, my son comes down from his loft

 

in solid form and says

Do you know trees are 90% air?

 

As if I haven’t spent years standing here

holding my breath.

Praise the Present Tense

By Erin Malone

& the invisible boy who hides, hands over his eyes, in the center of the room.
Praise evidence: mouth prints on windows,
his tongue’s snail on the long glass doors
I’ve told him not to lick.
Praise the cup that breaks because
I’ve told him not to break it.
Praise socks in the hallway, socks in every corner
& two shoes flung in four directions.
Praise scattershot pocks on walls, the damn toy hammer that made them.
Praise spackle & paint.
Praise the balloon losing air & tulips floating, open as baskets.
Praise an aerial view, the partly clearing day.
Glory to what’s small & undone.
Bless him & keep him where he stands,
with me seeking, pretending not to see.

________________________________________________________________
Erin Malone is the author of Hover (Tebot Bach Press, 2015) and What Sound Does It Make (Concrete Wolf Press, 2008). She’s Editor of Poetry Northwest. For more, visit www.erinmalone.net. “Praise the Present Tense” was published in Hover, reprinted with the permission of the author and publisher (Tebot Bach Press, 2015).

Polishing the Stainless

By Liz Abrams-Morley

i.

I randomly imagine Eve,
first bride before bridal showers, fingering with woe
her flatware—spoons mismatched:
silver, stainless, round-bowled, oblong— scoops for her apple-
sauce with cloves, for the soups made from the array
of vegetables in the garden: butternut squash,
pepper, wax bean, snap pea. Dig in,
she’d have said to Adam if he’d let her

have words but he claimed them, left her
to harvest fruits: ok with her. Language alone,
she could have told him, wouldn’t nourish
the children who she couldn’t even keep
from killing each other.
I once had a friend who stole

ii.

one teaspoon from each café, diner,
dive she ate in, 45 states and a few foreign nations.
In our shared apartment, Madison, 1972,
she loved to serve her legendary soups to our friends, leftovers
stewed for hours, over low heat, a beat up stock pot on the avocado stove.
Every place at our cigarette-scarred wooden table was set
with one of her collection.
Dig in! Dig in!                She said she stole

because she craved the words, because for each spoon
she knew the story. Later I moved
onto a street of neat, three-bedroom
houses where behind doors, women silently
set tables with floral cloths and matched flatware.
Some had refrigerators magnet-papered in crayoned

families, tempura paint handprints, report cards pocked by
A’s and B’s—appliances become shrines to the ephemera
of their children’s lives . Then babies grew up, cleared out.
Mothers refused to move. What would they do about drawers
filled with old tee shirts, pj’s, jeans the kids had left behind
and just might need if they decided to sleep over?

Unused rooms kept swept, beds left made, as if daughters,
as if sons, would slide into deserted spaces at the dinner table,
pick up spoons and resume the conversation,
the way one piece, suddenly retrieved from under the bureau,
slides into emptiness
and completes the jigsaw puzzle.

iii.

After her not-quite-grown son died, my sister cleaned out
the stainless steel refrigerator, turned from hearth to earth,
her new yard on a small pond where no one asked her
to name her sorrow. She suspended spoons,
forks, knives from driftwood, hung these by lengths of dental floss,
created wind chimes which clattered and scared off

crows, red foxes, even coyotes. She ripped into
trim green lawn, planted beans, squash, tomatoes so fat
and sweet they bent vines straight down to dirt.
Love apples someone called them and she loved them,
harvested them gently with scarred bare hands.

________________________________________________________________
Liz Abrams-Morley’s newest collection, Inventory, was published by Finishing Line Press in September of 2014.  Necessary Turns was published by Word Press in 2010 and won an Eric Hoffer Award for Excellence in Small Press Publishing that year.  Other collections include Learning to Calculate the Half Life (Zinka Press, 2001,) and What Winter Reveals (Plan B Press, 2005).  Her poems and short stories have been published in a variety of nationally distributed anthologies, journals and ezines, and have been read on NPR. “Polishing the Silver” was a finalist in the 2016 Jewish Currents Raynes
Poetry Contest and appeared in the anthology, Urge, published by Blue Threads in spring of 2016.

Co-founder and co-director of Around the Block Writing Collaborative, (www.aroundtheblockwriters.org) Liz is on the MFA faculty of Rosemont College and works with public school children in Philadelphia and surrounding counties, presenting literacy through arts programs.   Wife, mother, grandma, teacher, neighbor, sister, friend—she wades knee deep in the flow of everyday life from which she draws inspiration and, occasionally, exasperation.

The saint of the round and round

By Linda Ravenswood

The baby sleeps long in the afternoon sometimes
and sometimes he won’t
and sometimes I watch the shows or sometimes I write
if the story wants to get known.
Sometimes I wander and pick at the food,
sometimes
I want to go out but that would take all kinds
of preparations like finding clothes to wear or
finding the chance of soap and water
or finding those things you need for the world out there.
The days become the weeks become the months become the
life, in this way.

________________________________________________________
Linda Ravenswood is a poet and performance artist from Los Angeles. Her work has been published in 30 literary journals, with music appearing in three documentary films (PBS), four books in print (Sybaritic Press, Mouthfeel Press, Gallery 16 Press, LACMA Press – forthcoming), and she is a 2016 Vermont Studio Centre grantee in Poetry. Finalist for Poet Laureate of West Hollywood (2016), and twice nominated for The Pushcart Prize for Poetry, Linda is a lecturer, dramaturg and workshop presenter, most recently teaching at Occidental College and The 24th Street Theatre. Linda Ravenswood is NDN / First Nation, (Pokanoket, Wampanoag) and a Mayflower descendant on her mother’s side, and an Indigenous Mestizaje from Baja California Sur on her father’s side. She was raised in Los Angeles by Jewish Holocaust survivors from WWII.

What Shall We Call You?

By Lisa Huffaker

Mirror baby in whom we glimpse our own strangeness!
Prophet baby whose eyes pour out prophecy! Vision baby
whose mute tongue writhes with visions!
Devourer baby whose toothless gums gnaw the nipple!
Fat Buddha baby whose belly is the Buddha! Void baby
whose fists grip tight handfuls of emptiness! Galaxy baby
whose clenched fingers enclose the stars! Wordless fish baby
who swam dumb and slippery out of the womb!
Slimy frog baby covered in blood! Naked petal baby
unfolding pink and strong! Earthworm baby
heaved out of the ground rosy and squirming! Scrawny
bird baby gaping for food! Wrinkled grandfather
baby whose face unfolds eons! Alien earth baby
just off the mother ship! Wailing siren baby sounding alarm,
squalling joyous calamity! Roaring lion baby who sings the end
and beginning of time! Fontanel baby whose skull
is a bruised peach! Walnut baby cracked out
from the broken womb like a crumpled bit of meat!
Origami baby creased like a paper lotus!
Transparent vellum baby with fingernails like flakes of paper!
Chaos baby, vortex spinning around a limpid eye!
Hurricane baby swirling out of the ocean with a name!

________________________________________________________________

Since winning Southwest Review’s Morton Marr Poetry Prize in 2008, Lisa Huffaker’s poems have been published in Southwest Review, Poet Lore, Measure, Southern Poetry Review, Mezzo Cammin, The Texas Observer, Able Muse, and Southern Humanities Review, which recently nominated her for the Pushcart Prize.  She has been a featured poet at readings sponsored by Southwest Review, Wordspace, Pegasus Reading Series, Pandora’s Box, Dallas Poets Community, and Malvern Books, and is a member of the multimedia poetry performance troupe, Dancing Tongue.  Lisa’s primary background is classical singing; she holds a Master of Music degree in Vocal Performance from the New England Conservatory, and has sung with The Dallas Opera since 1999.  She teaches creative writing at Yavneh Academy of Dallas.

Behind Lids of Half-Closed Eyes

By Terry Martin

My dead keep showing up
wearing clip-on earrings,
doing crosswords in ink,
offering striped peppermints
from a cut-glass dish.

They smell of Jergens and Polident,
read Popular Mechanics and TV Guide,
laugh at the jokes on Hee Haw
‘til tears pour down their cheeks.

One of them is building
a crystal radio in the basement.
Another whistles “It’s Such a Pretty World Today.”
That one has become the watercolorist
she always wanted to be.

Each greets a faithful but fainter
version of my former self,
time thinning between dream and day.

Mother’s Day

By Terry Martin

In spite of all this, her tulips are blooming
in the rock garden just outside the window.
Panoplies of red yellow orange white,
planted last year as the measure of her hope.

Inside the house
my mother lies dying
in a rented hospital bed.
A fading star around which everything now revolves.
Funny, somehow, to think of it as a ‘living room’,
and yet, that’s what it is.
Still.

‘To control the pain as much as
possible and to get you home’.
Those have been the shared and
stated goals all along.
Our top priorities.
So here we sit.
And now what?

A whole new vocabulary these days:
catheter, bolus, enema,
hospice, IV, bowel movements.
Morpheus, the god of sleep.
A parallel universe she now inhabits—
a relatively peaceful place, fortunately,
but one to which my father and I
have no access.

So on this strangest of Mother’s Days
celebration doesn’t feel possible.
Overshadowed by the pain
(hers, of course, the most obvious
but also his, theirs, mine)
and the unspoken realization
that this is the first one
we haven’t been able to celebrate
and our last one
together.

If I could, Mama,
I’d take you outside
to see your flowers today.
For just beyond these walls,
right on the other side,
bloom the tulips
that you planted last year
for the first time in your life.

_____________________________________________
An avid reader and writer, Terry Martin has published hundreds of poems, essays, and articles, edited books, journals, and anthologies, and published three books of poems—Wishboats (2000), The Secret Language of Women (2006) and The Light You Find (2014).  She teaches English at Central Washington University, where she received the Distinguished Professor—Teaching Award. Martin was also honored as U.S. Professor of the Year by the CASE/Carnegie Foundation—a national teaching award given to recognize extraordinary commitment and contribution to undergraduate education. She lives with her spouse in Yakima, Washington—The Fruit Bowl of the Nation. “Mother’s Day” first appeared in English Journal, and in Wishboats. “Behind Lids of Half-Closed Eyes” first appeared in Calyx, and then in, The Light You Find (Blue Begonia Press, 2014).

Gauze

By Robert Hershon

Midnight in intensive care
luggage in the hall
We are here with you, mother
trying to read your eyes since
you can either breathe or speak
but not both
and your hands are tied so
you won’t tear out the tubes again
You want to tell your story
one more time
85 years and 95 pounds
of rage that kept your heart ticking
but what ticks anymore? It’s
the age of beeps and tiny lights

Mother’s house without mother
Open any drawer, walk in any room
Put muddy shoes up on the sofa
(if we want to), see whose faces
are torn from photographs
The thousand-year-old cookies taste
like dust, there is no sugar rush

Something wrong with the time
she complains
She can see the giant wall clock
across from her bed but it makes no sense
Need my time bring my time
She points toward her arm
We bring her watch after lunch
and hours from death she smiles

The huge orderly hugs us each
in turn as we enter the room
Soon he will wheel the body away
to a place we can barely imagine
She is lying on the bed as composed
as ivory The gauze band which
frames her face, to prevent the jaw
from falling slack, makes her
look like a carving of a medieval saint

The woman in the next bed
awake now after days of sleep
her old red body flung this way and that
confused, dying herself, but still socialized
asks how is your mother doing
and my sister, who is hearing
how many voices right now, what
choruses of loss and counterpoint
of relief, replies in her kind professional
tone: As well as can be expected

______________________________________________________________
Robert Hershon’s 14th poetry collection, Freeze Frame, was published in 2015 by Pressed Wafer.  Other recent titles include Goldfish and Rose, The German Lunatic and Calls from the Outside World.  Hershon has won two Creative Writing Fellowships from the National Endowment for the Arts and three fellowships from the New York State Council for the Arts.  He has been co-editor of Hanging Loose Press since its founding in 1966.  He lives in Brooklyn with his wife, Donna Brooks.  “Gauze” was originally published in The German Lunatic in 2000 by Hanging Loose Press.

Explaining the Placenta

By Jane Beal

This is the house your baby lived in
before she was born,
I say –

and I hold up the membranes
of amnion and chorion
(words like notes sung
by cherubim and seraphim)
to show the mother
who now is breastfeeding her newborn babe.

This shiny side was the baby’s side,
and the cord in the center
was connected to the center of her!

I turn the placenta over
in the bowl, and say:
This side was your side, attached
to the inside of the uterus,
and the blood that perfused it
brought life and food to your baby.

The mama knows this was part of her.
Now that she has seen it,
she will remember.
She has understood something about herself
and life when it is first beginning:
unseen, unheard, inside.

She says she will
bury it in the ground.
What will grow from it then?

___________________________________________________________
Jane Beal is a poet. She is the creator of many poetry collections, including Sanctuary (Finishing Line Press, 2008) and Rising (Wipf and Stock, 2015), as well as three recording projects: Songs from the Secret Life, Love-Song, and with her brother, saxophonist and composer Andrew Beal, The Jazz Bird. She also writes fiction, creative non-fiction, and literary criticism. She has served as a professor at Wheaton College and Colorado Christian University, teaching creative writing and literature, and as a midwife in the U.S., Uganda, and the Philippines. She currently teaches at the University of California, Davis. See http://sanctuarypoet.net.