Literary Mama writing about the many faces of motherhood
Summer Day

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for John

When he refused to be born, when he stayed
curled and warm and huge inside, they
sent me from the hospital, said Go home and rest,
but I weeded the parched garden instead.
After a time, the boy's father stepped outside,
suggested I might come in out of July's brass
heat for a glass of water, at least, but I glared
until he had to shade his eyes, until he knew
the hundred-degree heat was pumped,
not from the just-past-solstice sun, but from me.
So he gave up, went inside to worry
from the dining room window, instead.
The birthing never ends.
Today, the boy
who takes his time was drawn from me again,
down our long gravel drive
in a recruiter's car, toward a plane bound
for San Antonio and a drill instructor who will drill
and swear him into that brassy heat.
After the car rolls out of sight, I stumble
to the garden in search of weeds. Weeds
are a mercy—lambsquarter, dock, pigweed,
purslane, butterprint—they give me reasons.
The earth cradles my feet, the sun pours
consolation over my shoulders
while bobwhites call their names,
and the '51 Ford tractor hums and whirrs
along the lane, the profile of the boy's father
a common comfort as it rides the waves of grass.


Daye Phillippo is a graduate of Purdue University and Warren Wilson MFA for Writers. She is the recipient of a Mortarboard Fellowship and an Elizabeth George Grant for poetry. Her work has appeared or is forthcoming in Natural Bridge, Shenandoah, Off the Coast, The Comstock Review, The Fourth River, Cider Press Review, Great Lakes Review, The Adirondack Review, and others. She teaches English at Purdue University and lives in a creaky old farmhouse on twenty rural acres in Indiana with her husband and their youngest son.


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This poem is so beautiful! Thank you for sharing it.
Solid! So glad to see it, good work. Loving the contrasts and movements, images.
Daye! This moved me to tears! Love it!