Absence: Orphan, by Laurel S. Peterson

Absence: Orphan
by Laurel S. Peterson
       “Poetry ought to have a mother as well as a father.” Virginia Woolf

Even now, mother,
you are absent still
in your own body
and from mine.
I was hungry.
You fed me dreams
until I was starved
near to death
for bread and milk.
I was thirsty,
you gave me silence to drink,
empty and black;
my soul dehydrated to ash.
I was lonely,
so you left me alone
in the wasteland your pain made.

So then, what mother?

A mother of snow, blooming
like chrysanthemums in moving headlights,
a mother of geometry,
like thin ice over running water,
like sunlight’s long arc over summer.

Neglect makes of me
the heron that flaps
startled
into brilliant air.

Laurel S. Peterson is a Professor of English at Norwalk Community College. Her poetry has been published in many small literary journals. She has two poetry chapbooks: That’s the Way the Music Sounds, from Finishing Line Press (2009) and Talking to the Mirror from The Last Automat Press (2010). She also co-edited a collection of essays on women’s justice titled (Re)Interpretations: The Shapes of Justice in Women’s Experience (2009). Her mystery novel, Shadow Notes, was released by Barking Rain Press in May 2016, and the second in the series will be out sometime this year. A full length collection of poetry, Do You Expect Your Art to Answer You? was released by Futurecycle Press in 2017. She is the current poet laureate of Norwalk, CT.

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