by Elise Stuart
We sit on the swing on the back porch.
It is night—always night with my mother.
We have matching sun dresses this summer:
thin, red, see-through material with tiny white polka dots.
The red—kind of scratchy against my chest,
the skirt sticking out like a weary tutu when I walk.
Tired, leaning against my mother,
my legs dangling off the front of the swing.
She's singing to herself,
her voice is low, smoky, a little off-key.
I love it because she's giving me attention,
and I'll take anything she gives.
She leans over to brush a strand of hair
away from my face and keeps singing.
The screen porch is in shadow,
but light shines softly
from inside the house.
My mother is like that too.
In the twilight world of almost-asleep,
she rocks us, pushing her foot
against the floor every now and then.
Holding her song inside me
reminds me to listen―
for music in the darkness.
* * * * *
"The Swing" is from Elise Stuart's 2017 memoir My Mother and I We Talk Cat.
Elise Stuart moved to Silver City in 2005, and her heart opened to the desert. She found the creative current to be strong in this southwest corner of New Mexico, and she found beauty in the land and rivers and sky and in the people who live here. In 2014, when she was chosen Poet Laureate of Silver City, she envisioned young people expressing themselves through poetry so during the next three years she gave over a hundred workshops to youth. She continues with this work. In the spring of 2017 her first collection of poems was published, Another Door Calls.