Literary Mama writing about the many faces of motherhood
A Letter to Mary

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Hail Mary, full of grace, I am with child. Again.
Yesterday my three boys painted the soles of their shoes red
and stamped a glossy mural on the living room wall. They used a ladder.
Had it been their bedroom, I might not have screamed so loud.
You could hear my goddamns in Hong Kong. I slapped them silly.
                                                                                     Forgive me. They laughed.


                                                       The Lord is with thee but not always with me.
There used to be lots of men and lots of martinis and parties til dawn.
I haven’t told my husband yet. Instead I told him about a cartoon
I submitted to The New Yorker. At an AA meeting in Vegas,
an Elvis imitator rises before a dozen others, says, Hi, I’m Elvis
and I’m an alcoholic. I laughed so hard I bit my tongue. He stared.
Grey is streaking his hair. Take care of him.


Blessed is the fruit of thy womb and mine, too, but does there have to be
such abundance? You had only one and in the desert climate
                                                                                 He played outside.
Yes, I know, the end was tragic but
                                                                  He did rise, then ascend. I’m not so sure
about my ascension. Where does a child smacker end up? I always thought I’d be a nun. I think about it now more than ever. No kids,
                                                       the Magna Silencia, I could actually sleep
through the night. And that white linen habit, no stains.


I am so pathetic. Last week I thought I got a great buy on a tenderloin.
When my husband came home he said, What’s that smell? That’s tongue.
Whose tongue? I said. My dog is polite;
                                                                      he ate it. Sometimes I whine.
                                                                      I hide from my kids
in the hall closet. I envy my childless friends who go to the office
in classy suits and stiletto heels. As a kid,
my favorite character was Wonder Woman, that sassy costume
and her zapping everyone with her silver bracelet.
                                                                      Did you know she was an Amazon?
As a penance for having been enslaved by Hercules, Aphrodite forced them to wear
forever the metal wrist bands used to chain and enslave them. I could use a magic
gauntlet to deflect bullets, energy weapons, and all manner of attack
like my patron saint, Elizabeth, Queen of Hungary,
                                                            accosted by the King because she was delivering
food to the poor which he had forbidden. She opened her cloak
and the loaves of bread turned into roses. Holy Mary, Mother of God,


pray for us now; I’m too overwhelmed to worry about the hour of death. Maybe
for my husband and for me, this time you could deliver a baby girl.
This morning as the sun rose a purple martin thudded against the window.
I held her in my hand’s hollow until she was still.
                                                                                      Yours, Elizabeth


Liz Dolan’s second poetry manuscript, A Secret of Long Life, soon to be published by Cave Moon Press, was nominated for the Robert McGovern Prize. Her first poetry collection, They Abide, was published by March Street Press. A six-time Pushcart nominee and winner of The Best of the Web, she has also won an established artist fellowship in poetry and two honorable mentions in prose from the Delaware Division of the Arts. Her nine grandkids, who live one block away from her, pepper her life.


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Liz, I love this. I laughed out loud with startled self-recognition. If there is to be prayer, then it has to fit among the endless stream of moments, and this is seamless. Thanks for this; it's a keeper that I plan to read often.
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