Literary Mama writing about the many faces of motherhood
5:30 a.m. and inside the house

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my daughter sleeps, the younger one

still in school, who wishes she'd wake up emancipated
with at least enough money to buy

a good used car. Last night on the way home,
steering wheel loose in her hands as if she's been

driving for years, she says: You won't be mad
if I'm not around much this summer?

as if her new job and impeccable knowledge
of green lights and stop signs is all she needs to know

to live in the world. My sigh silent as the dusk,
the words in my throat blue as the curve of stars

slipping down from that place she has yet to go,
I think of leaving home at 16, the work

as mind-numbing as the pot I smoked to get by,
an old black and white TV flickering hope in the corner.

I imagine my daughter pacing her room late at night
conjuring her boyfriend's face, a sad-eyed blonde kid

who always looks as if he just woke up. The dirty clothes
and wrinkled papers on the floor won't stop the velocity

or direction of her steps. I wonder when the clock sped up,
I write letters to her that never leave the spiral notebook.

The straight lines of print flit before my eyes like so many walls
dividing the earth from the sky. I will have to rouse her

three times for school in the morning, I will have to know
the difference between my own longings and hers,

I will have to judge the strength of the cords that hold her
as she swings from the moon, ready to jump.


Liza Porter is the mother of two daughters, aged 22 and 17, and grandmother to Austin, aged 8 months. She is the director of the monthly Other Voices Women’s Reading Series in Tucson, Arizona. A winner of the Tucson Poetry Festival’s Statewide Poetry Contest in September 2004, Liza’s work has appeared in online and print publications including Slipstream, Circle Magazine, Pebble Lake Review, and The Montserrat Review.


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