Mother is silent, mother weeps, mother sighs.
Mother does the difficult thing. All the grand
mothers know sacrifice is required. Silence
mothers all darkness. Mother knits and kneads,
mother rises early. Something inside her must
mother at all times, the holding, clapping, shouting
mothers in the rain, cups of wine, fresh bread only
mothers can make. Mother falls away and comes back.
Mother hides to make her own stories, her cave walls
mother every darkness, passed on to me. Inherit the
mother, become the mother, swallow the darkness.
Mother, you know what I must do, how I must fall.
Mother, you watch, sister who made me, carried me,
mothered me from afar and up close the way every
mother must release an entire skein of life to the wind,
mother of all invisible fingers ruffling tree tops,
mother of storms, faster and faster flowing away,
mother who watches and steps aside and watches,
mother who knows I must learn my own truths,
mother who knew about monsters and said nothing,
mother, maker of the silver ladder we climb to heavenly
Mother of god, we contain mountains, multitudes,
mother of pearl glancing invisible colors seen by crowds
mother never dreamed of, hubbubs and nuisances. The grand
mothers rule, they outnumber us, tell us what to do,
motherly swords the world has never seen. I can hear the
mothers singing, screaming, telling stories, antidotes,
motherly love, the kind you don’t know about until you
mother another, release another version of yourself to
mother more perhaps. Instinct takes over. No control.
Mother says, Strike fast, play the chances, take hearts.
Mother obeys. She only speaks from experience. Her own
mothers whisper: anything to survive, anything for more.
Back in the 90s, Christine Stephens-Krieger finished her MFA at WMU, published about 35 poems in various journals, won some awards, and appeared in the PrePress Awards Volume II: An Anthology of Emerging Michigan Writers. She then submerged, taught herself to paint, and raised a child. This new collection of poems is her best work so far.