Part Two: Raising My Own

Author | Marianne Peel

Soon, Mama, Soon…
Mama keeps asking me when the children will come,
when she can be called Beloved Baba or Babushka
when she can expect those miniature handprints of flour on her apron,
making dough for pierogis with her grandbaby.

And I tell her, “Soon, Mama, soon…”as she pats my stomach,
anticipating the rolling of a fetus beneath her palm.
Back home, always in the middle of the night the blood comes.
It comes every twenty-eight days.

My hands are raw white chalk from the bleach I use to scour the sheets,
to disappear from the bedclothes this sloughing off of the inside of me.
Because this seed will not take root in me,
I work the soil with bare hands. I bury seed beneath fertile soil.

The vines of the zucchini nearly choke the tomato plants,
nearly strangle the corn stalks.
I have more than I can hold.
The root cellar is wallpapered with labeled mason jars.

Every shelf sagging with stewed tomatoes,
bread and butter pickles, cabbage-laden chow chow.
So I rent a wooden booth at the market,
price my wares lower than my neighbors.

On the way home, my wheelbarrow
stutters over ruts, jar against jar. 
I wait for the crack of glass,
The commingling of beet and pickle juices.

I still have more than I can hold
and have become the village surpriser
depositing jars in doorways, on porches,
even in the hollows of trees.

Sometimes I sit on the curb the next day
watching boys and girls with playground hands
discover these food offerings.
They run them up to their porch,

holding them precious to their chests,
these treasures, and transfer them to mother hands
that emerge from behind screen doors.
I plant marigolds, too, 

and make bouquets of flowers and vegetables.
A berserk bundle of garden in my hands
as an offering, to my mama,
for the child that refuses to take root in the soil of me.


About the Author | Marianne Peel taught English at middle and high school for 32 years. She is now retired, doing Field Instructor work at Michigan State University. She recently won 1st prize for poetry in the Spring 2016 Edition of the Gadfly Literary Magazine. She also won the Pete Edmonds Poetry Prize. In addition, Marianne has been published in Muddy River Review; Silver Birch Press; Eastlit; Persephone’s Daughters; Encodings: A Feminist Literary Journal; Write to Heal; Writing for Our Lives: Our Bodies—Hurts, Hungers, Healing; Mother Voices; Metropolitan Woman Magazine; Ophelia's Mom; Jellyfish Whispers; Remembered Arts Journal. Marianne also received Fulbright-Hays Awards to Nepal and Turkey. She is a flute playing vocalist, learning to play ukulele, who is raising four daughters. She shares her life with her partner Scott, whom she met in Istanbul while studying in Turkey. Marianne also taught teachers in Guizhou Province, China for three summers, and she also toured several provinces in China with the Valpraiso Symphony, playing both flute and piccolo, in January of 2016. Recently, Marianne was invited to participate in Marge Piercy’s Juried Intensive Poetry Workshop in June 2016. This fall, she journeyed to Georgia O’Keefe’s Ghost Ranch in New Mexico, where she took part in an amazing Narrative Poetry Writing Seminar.