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Fall 2001, Volume 19.1

Poetry

 

Felicia Mitchell

Photo of Felicia Mitchell.

Felicia Mitchell received her Ph.D. at the University of Texas at Austin and has since taught English and creative writing at Emory & Henry College in Virginia. Her poems have been published widely and will appear in the near future in Manzanita: Literary Journal of the Mother Lode and Sierra, Potpourri, and Many Mountains Moving. A chapbook, Earthenware Fertility Figure, was published by Talent House Press (Oregon) in 1999. She has also recently joined the Weber Studies editorial board.

 

Fruit and Flowers

Almost every day,
I lift the fig leaves,
eyeing the newest growth
to see if any globes
are taking shape.
I know they will appear
between the stem and leaf
as magically
as testicles dropping
from a small boy's scrotum.

There is a time
before he knows he is naked
when a boy is both fruit and flower,
and his mother is a garden
he grows in.
When Japanese beetles light
on his leaves, they do not linger
but move to the bed of roses.

There is a time,
every growing season,
when there is a moment of panic
when I wonder if my tree
will bear.

 

Start and Crescent

A young boy sleeps
at the edge of a new moon,
his mummy bag
as warm as a hot bath
or hot chocolate.
He is putting his fears to bed.
He is shaking off
his grandfather's ashes.
By morning, he will burrow down
as far as he can go, head hidden,
a fetal curl.
He is brave, he is a star.

On the other side of the window,
a mother does not sleep.
She breathes the cold air
through a crack and listens
to the woods behind the boy.

The woods whisper.
They will not wake the boy.
His grandfather whispers,
O my people,
Could I leave this?
The boy dreams of bullasses
and briar berries that grow
a little farther south.
The mother breathes.

  

Bird in Flight

There is a bird nest
where other women would keep porcelain,
crystal, Hummel figurines.
Next to a child's plaster of paris mask.
Above an old wallet.
Some ghost bird has been flying
in one house, or another,
for almost fifty years.
My mother is never lonely.
When a cricket sings in her house,
I hear about it in a letter.
Every time I visit,
I leave with another treasure:
colonial silver, blown glass water pitchers,
my father's frayed nightcap.
A bag of tomatoes.
She does not want us to clean house.
By the time she dies,
there will be little left: a bird nest,
an old wallet, lipstick on the bathroom counter.
We will bury the nest with her.
Her bird will fly.

 

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