Sestina:
Though it really isn’t about mothering after all

When I first began thinking about dust
and my life was no longer full of the clutter
of pious Sunday mornings planted
on pews, and I stopped dreaming of being married
for time and all eternity, I became rebelliously content
with the thought of never being a mother.

Of course I didn’t talk to my mother
about this.  She had taken the losing of my dusty
virginity so hard. But I could hardly be content
with what Mormon women were or wanted to be; I decluttered
my mythology of such whitened rooms, no longer married
to the appled serpent of penitent servitude or connubial godhood. I planted

myself in groundlessness, got lost in weeds planted
by Sylvia, Virginia, Kate:  my mothers whom the word “Mother”
could not claim, though it may have killed them, married
to thousands of years of dust.
But they juggled and loved this clutter
into words and women: Edna, Esther, Orlando, me. The content

of our skin no longer content
with the time between dishes, diapers, and planted
petunias. But putting my head in an oven, carrying a clutter
of stones in my pockets and sinking into a river, lake or sea in order to mother
myself into solitude so deep and the artless sleep of dust
seemed a worse fate than being married

to a family’s endless needs.  So:  I dreamed against my foremothers.  If I married
a man, but also myself to myself, mastered the art of being content
with the miraculous mundane, marveled at my children’s skin becoming dust
and wrote or lived epiphanies about the peppermint I planted
going rogue, I could possibly be a bridge mother, a rhizome mother, a mother
who could avoid murderous ovens and water, teach children to turn clutter

into love, teach myself to be a brave, awake mother.  For years this lovely clutter
breathed in wordless poems, fleshy paintings only for me, in awe. But being married!
Oh, we try!  The silent years and midnight longings of exhausted, unearthed mothers,
roots dangling over husbands’ pots, ever resurrecting our wilted desire.  Discontent:
the distant contentment of husbands planted
firmly in the comfortable dust

of us, or who we were supposed to be. Perhaps the dust of husbands is a clutter
I can’t contain, that can’t contain me, like the dandelions no one planted, married
deeply to wind and soil, content, reaching wild through a dark mother.

2009

Leave a Reply