Literary Mama writing about the many faces of motherhood
The Way Up Is the Way Down

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Chose the site from the trail
through eye-wide leaf-slits
in trees, the slope too steep for all
but deer, talus-strewn, leaf-slick.

Walked and stumbled
then settled, clearing detritus
trees drop -- leaves, nut shells, wind-
thin shavings of bark.

Then strewed you, wistful dust,
with handfuls of lavender
and yellow rose, tobacco shreds,
and amber beads of whiskey.
Your ashes, wan as egg-shell,
color of smoke and pearls,
were stick- and leaf- paper- thin.

Stick and stone, you cannot hurt me now.
Poor stitch in time, poor voice pitched
at emptiness. You're barely dust, a flour
of femur and tibula, of skull-bowl
and knuckle-knot. Worry can't itch you now.

We drank shots, rested. Then crawled
and hauled selves uphill, trees
for purchase -- live-oak, poplar --
toward the trail. My daughters,
deer-legged, sure-footed, ran uphill,
turned, called.

Caught myself slipping,
swung one arm round
pin-oak bole almost parallel
to the steep. Could not
get round or let it go. Hung there,
mother boulder, too round and fat
to haul uphill. Rested, thought.

The tree took my weight. I shrugged, turned,
looked up. Saw -- moss-tinged,
birch-white -- a rope-thin
poplar branch just feet uphill -- no,
a rope like a branch -- suspended, in air.

This grace, this lost lasso or
trail tow, some cowgirl or
hiker willed us, a hope, a benison
like a girl's stout braid,
My angel, my rapunzel.


Mary Moore is the mother of one daughter, Damara, and has credits for poetry and scholarly articles in refereed magazines and journals. She has one book of poetry, The Book of Snow, from Cleveland State University Press (1998) and one scholarly book, Desiring Voices, Women Sonneteers and Petrarchism, from Southern Illinois U. P (2000). Recent poetry credits include Prairie Schooner (forthcoming, Summer ’06), Kestrel, The Sow’s Ear Poetry Review, and the Literary Mama anthology.


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