Literary Mama writing about the many faces of motherhood
Word-Girl

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You said me, mother, a word you warded,
a plaid-skirted word-girl, church-schooled.
You told me rosary beads of rules --
skip sidewalk cracks; throw salt shoulder-over ward;

save pennies found; make luck. Worrier,
you shaped me as worries shaped your world.
The nine good angel-kinds, the stars that shined
through constellated window panes at night,

"Hail Mary's," "Our Father's," my girl scout
oath, my tables of allegiances -- words
girded and guarded my world like household
gods. Words were all my plight. You shaped me

mother, like a word you loved and mouthed --
I, the bell of syllables, I, the smooth-
sided labials. Words were all my troth.
So I rode the air like flying does, like sound.

No wonder falling woke me. I'd lie
spread-eagled, face up, under the wheel
of ceiling, its hub, the light-bulb's pear-
shaped egg -- a whirligig of a girl

the bed had thrown. I was thud and bone,
a stone on the world's flat center. I heard
air's white noise, the just missed cloud sigh after
birds pass through, the lisp of space. No wonder

the round-sided vowels could not buoy me.
I was a mote, but not of dust or earth.
You said me, mother, oath who's vowed to earth,
word you schooled in words. Now I say you.


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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