Marsh Hawk Review is an online poetry journal sponsored by the Marsh Hawk Press collective. Marsh Hawk Review will appear twice a year, under the revolving editorship of collective members. Each issue will offer a selection of poems solicited by the editor, in addition to new work posted by poets in the collective.

Tuesday, September 7, 2010


SUSAN TERRIS



Tasseling


In the garden by the pond, outlines. Daughters and

mothers, the old woman says. Mothers and daughters.


Think of the crackle before a light bulb blows,


the darkened glass, afterimage of a girl,

pyrotechnics with cymbals of

light wheeling outwards.

Yet she'd been so unmarked,


the beauty, the desired. Her glitter-paint

pictures. Beans grown in a window box

then left to purple in western light.


The corn, the old woman says, looking past daughter

and mothering, is beginning to tassel.


The radishes pinked and swelled to the size of onions.


Overhead, grumble of a summer storm:

a hint of thunder as heat lightning

fingers the sky,

as the girl savors rumors of boys and of cars.


Before, she was always her mother's brimming

image. But how fragile glass can be.

Think seven years bad luck.

Now crazed. The sharp-edged reflections, ripped

and rippled. I hate you, love you,


hate you, won't invite you to my party,


and all the old nursery lines thrown into

this garden. But which? The one with silver

bells or with the lost lamb?

I didn't know it was going to be this hard,


the mother sighs. Warp and bubble.

How does a child become not image but vessel—

her two dimensions rounded to


an empty bottle afloat on a mirrored pond?

No message. A girl without context.


And when did she surge into not-mother?


So what now? Sort her as trash and try

to recycle?

Or seek a kind of rebirth

to a fresh, unblemished model?


And what is the model? Not bottle but stalk.

She's tall and still green with corn-tassel hair

and feet rooted in earth.


You give your boys wings, the old woman says.

But where have you hidden hers?

The boys, the cars, the rumors, the light....


O why other in place of mother?

Draw a magic circle. Color it with purple, and

keep her planted here. The corn may be

tasseling but it's not yet ripe.


Kernels swell as sky flashes. Wind twists

cornstalks. The girl is not

Dorothy, the tornado not headed for Oz.


In children's books, the old woman says, first kill


the mother. Mother-words: the tornado,

a spiraling I-told-you-so of noise.

So daughter must kill

or, at least, sting and stun, shake


roots and tear away. Still,

there's a brief letgodontletgo glance

from her clouded face as


she flees mother-censor, mother-law,

hateyouloveyouhateyou—green, yellow, fuchsia


circles—loveyou—pinwheeling through the dark.


So hate me, the daughter cries. Can't stay....

Storm-cracked images: the cars,

the boys, the rumors of light. Camera

obscura shows girl and earth turning.


Lightning and thunder shingle. The pond undams.

Furrows flood. Then girl, a mud-dark

silhouette against the sky, inhales and exhales.


Mother-voice deadened. Daughter-girl

aloft, as her soft silken hair flags out behind.



Copyright: All the poets whose poems appear in Marsh Hawk Review Fall 2010 retain individual copyrights to their works © 2010




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