Literary Mama writing about the many faces of motherhood


I.  Picasso’s Maya with a Doll

Blue Period
morning broken birdsong before the world got rearranged

Rose Period
vessel of your reception, sleeping like a hollow whelk
unclothed and unavailed of whispered intoxicant language
  next year’s words
await another voice 
the doctor said asymmetry could save

my heart incumbent upon your left ear
The father rearranged every surface of the body
jumprope, guitar, left foot wrong
reordered knees and angular thoughts,
the pared down palette of a child,
simple and unsyncopated
hand on a doll, hand on a doorknob
wanting so plainly to be reconstructed

As he painted, so I clean my kitchen, attempting to show, on the flat surface
how much space an object, like love or crest-fallenness, can occupy.  I shuffle the clutter and kipple of a body--jaw, breast, breastbone and lung
elide.  on the undersides of bellies, on the underside of sex:  breath.
          Once the ocean towed me under and I came
          out sputtering, sea-trodden and drenched in sadness
and in sunlight,
all cubed and prismatic.

Picasso’s daughter Maya’s eyes are asymmetric.
Her father doesn’t mind; he painted her.

Pablo and I (we have befriended this style)
paint together soft, round shapes, edgeless and conflated,
a bowl of golden smoke, or crows in the gloaming.
The language next year’s words await
comes sideways, in integrated syllables the capaciousness of which is not
perceived unless rattled against stones or the deep, protracted silence of wilted beliefs.
Impressions had been proven, by popular opinion,
pat, unimaginative, après garde,
so to speak.
To speak, breath requires voice, and voice alters invariably over time
elliptical and infinite.  Symmetry befits two, at least one,

Still, life.


II.  The Poet’s Maya with a Doll

Each night of the Blue Period,
and then the Rose,
I put my heart to bed beside you on the pillow
and inclined, knees on one side,
ears on the other,
haven of language between us
like a wall.

the hollow vessel of your left ear a budding sweet pea
pigtails askew, hands curled in upon themselves and wrapped around this poem
next year’s words
await another voice

bicycle guitar jumprope
left foot wrong
your hand on the doorknob
You do not know the word for I
You do not know the word for Want
You do not know the word for Out.

Picasso rearranged the world.
his daughter Maya
my daughter Maya
rearranged knees and thoughts
and the early morning birdsong
before the world got rearranged.

Maya’s doll lies upon her lap,
Maya’s doll is tucked under one arm,
hanging limply
socks unsyncopated,
as incapable of jumping rope or spelling and as beautiful as
crooked pigtails, crooked brain, crooked language
Your heart spoke to mine and it said,
It said Want.
It said Out.

Picasso’s daughter’s doll stands
on a wall in a Parisian musée
Mirrors in the courtyard deconstruct my footsteps
I am walking out on deconstructed feet.
Remember how far away I was?

I slipped into a wine-dark sea along the Seine,
heavily intoxicated by Gitanes and Turkish coffee
and haricots verts at the Brasserie Lipp, where Christophe laughed
and told me he’d been in love, once,
before my eyes turned menacing.

That is not a direct translation.

Picasso’s daughter Maya’s eyes are asymmetric
and her father doesn’t mind; he painted her that way.

Emily Shearer writes poetry, prose, and combinations of both from her home in Fairfax Station, VA which she shares with her husband and three children, ages 13, 10, and 6. Her work has appeared online at Sole Literary Journal and The Whirlwind Review and in print in the inaugural edition of Minerva Rising, as well as in Mercury Retrograde, an anthology from Kattywompus Press. You can read more of her writing and peruse her photo albums at

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Thank you, Emily. This is a beautiful poem!
Emily, beautiful poem, beautiful subject.
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