Literary Mama writing about the many faces of motherhood
On taking the Boston Red Line from the MFA

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The subway is infamous
for looks like bats
that dive for the hairline,
for eyes that flutter to ads'
sweet nectar.
Rocked by these flights,
the thin car ricochets
tunnel-wall, tunnel-wall.

The train ascends.
The Charles assembles itself, frame by frame.
A mother curates. See: sailboats! motorboats!
Her son traces their wakes with short laughs.
Then:
boats, water, and light vanish.

He cries. His hands fly to his eyes.
We forget not to look.

His mother waves long Mannerist fingers
and batters the boy with bright, false prophesies:
the sun is not gone;
all of the airplanes are still in the sky.

The boy curls into his own tunnel of hands.
There, quick red lines beat
comfort, comfort:
in his veins
the bright paths of
all the birds that ever flew,
their motions ribboned against Canaletto blue;
their song motes speckling the confettied air.


Leslie Ritchie is an associate professor at Queen’s University, where she teaches eighteenth-century British literature. She is the mother of two boys (aged 5 and 1). Ritchie is the author of Women Writing Music in Late Eighteenth-Century England: Social Harmony in Literature and Performance (2008), editor of the Norton Anthology of English Literature Instructor Image Disc (2009), and her poems have appeared in such journals as The New Quarterly and The Antigonish Review.


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