Literary Mama writing about the many faces of motherhood
Red Beaded Gumbo Prayers

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Red like the Mardi Gras beads that turn
under my fingers. Father brought
them home from a bar on Bourbon Street.
I wrap them around my head, body; and dance
around the kitchen. Red like the garnet rosary beads
nailed up over her bed to warn spirits away.
Convinced the house was full of ghosts.
Poker-playing demons taunt her from the corner.
Feufollet blinking in the darkness when she closes
her eyes. In the kitchen, a pot of gumbo boils
through her mother’s aluminum pot, cracks
and spills into the flames. The kitchen fills
with smoke. Blood-red tomatoes washing
over white enamel. Red, like the fear she gave.
Mother Mary Full of Grace, protect us from this
battered lace. Red. Red. Red and lovely, scared
and curled on the kitchen floor, pregnant
with her third, fourth, if you count the one
never born. The red, spilled and sticky
on the floor. So red.


Danèlle Lejeune was a permaculture farmer in Southern Iowa. She moved to Georgia in 2016. She is a beekeeper, a mother, a poet, a dreamer, and a stargazer, learning to play the accordion, though slowly and with much difficulty. Danèlle attended the Ossabaw Island Writer’s Retreat in 2014, 2015, and 2016, Permaculture Voices 2015. She has since been promoted to Assistant Director at the Ossabaw Island Writer’s Retreat. She attended Dr. Ragan’s writing residency in Prague, CZ at Charles University, summer of 2015 and a residency at the Vermont Studio Center in November 2015. She was featured poet at the Art on the Prairie Poet’s Corner in Perry, Iowa, November 2014 and 2015.


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