Friday, 30 September 2016

"It was early in your second marriage,
when his violence was a yeast just beginning
to feed on your sweetness."
from today's poem "Polaroid of My Mother" by Cindy Stewart-Rinier.


Polaroid of My Mother


There you are in your coral-colored pantsuit,
1972, though your spray-stiffened hair holds
something of a ’60s Sophia Loren glamour
as you knead the bread dough from which
your eyes have momentarily risen.

Your mouth is a candid startle, slightly open,
perhaps on its way to Don’t or No, deflection
your reflex. It was early in your second marriage,
when his violence was a yeast just beginning
to feed on your sweetness.

I studied the way you leveraged weight
into the heels of your palms, pushed the pale belly
of dough into itself and away in a rhythm
of roll, fold, turn, roll, fold, turn, movement
and reposition a pattern, a practice.

I’ve never forgotten what you said that day,
long after the camera came down to hang slack
by its strap at my side. I wanted to know if you
were all right in the aftermath of your latest fight
with my step-father.

You lifted the tea towel from the top of the bowl,
smiled, and punched down the doubled dough.
The madder you are, you said,
the better the bread, as the air escaped
like a thousand exhalations.

* * * * *

A slightly different version of "Polaroid of my Mother” first appeared in the Summer 2013 edition of VoiceCatcher; in the1/15 Sunday Poetry Feature of Women’s Voices for Change; and in the VoiceCatcher Tenth Anniversary Anthology, She Holds the Face of the World, published in 2015