Literary Mama writing about the many faces of motherhood
The Blue Snake Lies Curled in my Bowl Like Oatmeal

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Coffee sticks like syrup in my throat.
I cannot let you go, my child, my love,
eyes liquid as marbles.
Tears hide in each cheek,
about to rain.

Your hand is as small as a wish,
waving to me,
who has belted you in securely
on each voyage all these years,
tightened the cord,
must I give you up so easily
to cold steel, flashing lights,
the teacher's chalky smile?

I hand you over;
time is given back to me:
two hours to fill
with black snaked lines
on fine, blue veined pages,
while your stubby hands sweat
on crayon covers;
trying to redo, with circles and lines,
the spangled world behind your eyes;
making fat clay worms
that tangle and break.

Time that is mine alone,
yet my arm crooks to hold you
young and babied once more.
My hand fights the discipline
of the page, and the cold snake within me
squeezes though to burst.

Are we always to be wanting
what isn't:
the greenest grass
accord and principle
motherhood and career?
Yet our age lies to us
like an asp,
whispering, "Both."

But to work is to abandon
to indifferent, casual hands,
what I, the potter, have worked
this demi-decade to achieve in you,
soft claygirl.
You respond to my words
like a cobra to a flute,
like the wooden chimes on the porch
dance to the soft music of the wind
from our lake.

But these five years are spent, idle, and gone
with but a handful of poems to show.
No publications from Antaeus to Xanadu,
but you, my poemchild,
whose smile is all my sonnets.

This poem previously appeared in Women: A Journal of Liberation

Barbara Crooker lives in Fogelsville Pennsylvania. Her poems have been widely published in journals and anthologies such as, The Christian Science Monitor, Poetry International, The Atlanta Review and Boomer Girls. She is a six-time Pushcart Prize nominee and has won numerous poetry awards and fellowships. She is also the author of ten chapbooks of poetry, including Ordinary Life which won the ByLine press chapbook competition in 2000. She is the mother of two daughters and a son. For more information or to read more of her work, you can access her website at

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