Nebraska Center for Writers


You'd think this piece of road
just a dream for the old
woman coaxing her Bonneville
like a dangerous ghost down I-80.

Only her head appears above
the door panel, disembodied
by sundown, floating somewhere
above the thin string of her neck.

The way the elderly drive,
with their disheartened climbs
and slow-motioned maneuvers, it seems
they've only a mile to go down

soft, dirt roads, so that even Aunt
Pearl, her head sawed neatly from
her shoulders on the interstate last
winter, smiled down at the salad

she brought home from the luncheon
instead of tapping her brakes
gently when the semi tried to merge.
You'd think old people had no sense

of speed or the lateness of the day, or
where we all must get to, their magnified
eyes peering, inscrutable above their steering wheels, tuberous hands

shaking, faintly shaking,
guiding their phantoms home.

Reprinted with permission
from Infanta
Copyright © 1995
by Erin Belieu
Copper Canyon Press


Mother, I'm trying
to write
a poem to you--

which is how most
poems to mothers must
begin--or, What I've wanted
to say, Mother...but we
as children of mothers,
even when mothers ourselves,

cannot bear our poems
to them. Poems to
mothers make us feel

little again. How to describe
that world that mothers spin
and consume and trap

and love us in, that spreads
for years and men and miles?
Those particular hands that could

smooth anything: butter on bread,
cool sheets or weather. It's
the wonder of them, good or bad,

those mother-hands that pet
and shape and slap,
that sew you together
the pieces of a better house
or life in which you'll try
to live. Mother,

I've done no better
than the others, but for now,
here is your clever failure.

Reprinted with permission
from Infanta
Copyright © 1995
by Erin Belieu
Copper Canyon Press

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The Rock

Nebraska Center for Writers