Literary Mama writing about the many faces of motherhood


The men are beautiful,
mute and efficient in white

sleeveless T's, biceps bulging
like the slick soybeans

my daughter loves
to pop from the pod and eat.

Mama, do I look sexy?
she wonders at four

then wants to make herself bleed
to prepare for the pain of giving

birth. What should I say?
Dear girl, don't fear the hurt

as we watch from her bedroom
window, one thriving limb at a time

cut whole from the wide sturdy crotch.
Instead, she turns to me.

The chipper whines
and sucks, too insatiable to feed.

Kirstin Hotelling Zona‘s poems have appeared in a number of journals and anthologies, such as the Southwest Review, Beloit Poetry Journal, Poet Lore,The Spoon River Poetry Review, and The Mom Egg. “Riptide, ” the title poem of her full-length manuscript, received the Elizabeth Matchett Stover Prize. She is also the author of numerous essays on modern poetry; a book of criticism, Marianne Moore, Elizabeth Bishop, and May Swenson: The Feminist Poetics of Self-Restraint (Michigan UP); and editor of Dear Elizabeth (Utah State UP). Kirstin lives with her husband and two young children in Maine and in Illinois, where she is an associate professor at Illinois State University, co-host of Poetry Radio on WGLT, and the new editor of The Spoon River Poetry Review.

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Dear Kirstin, Thank you for the greater gift of your poetry to the world, and thank you especially today for your poem "Tree." I find the poem elegantly manifold and inscrutable, calling me back to re-re-read it. Thank you for making us stop and hold in our gazes trees, sex, childhood, the flow of time, soybeans, innocence, biceps, chippers, and poetry. --Bob Broad
As I told you, this is an "ouchy" poem for me, though I love how you say "don't fear the hurt" in it. I love the progression from white beauty to wood chipper and how it makes me quiver.
Oh, I had to reread the last part over and over, did she really mean chipper...oh how that hurt. real images, strong symbolism. Thank you!
A strong current flowing across the current of literati, Kirstin is special among people persons and poets (the makers of things). Kirstin's work branches with the best of them, exploring the turbulence always there in rivers of thought. Fortunately for us, her poems ultimately/inevitably carry the same kind of wonderful, giving energy that characterizes her in daily life. I mean, she got all sorts of limbs (tree)hugging us. It feels good to know how much she cares.
WOW! I've always told my students that poetry should raise questions for the reader. You centainly raised more than a few questions with this poem. Nicely done.
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