Rawe-struck

The wonder-filled life of a single older-ish mom.

Archive for the category “Poems”

Holding Sandy Hook

cold-1284028__340Your small self slips under my covers
at 3 a.m.
grazes a sleep-shrouded kiss on my cheek,
barely a breeze,
whispers I love you
before falling back into deep sleep.

I used to lean in close,
when you were barely bigger than a shoe box,
holding my own breath to listen, keeping vigil during darkness,
making sure that the hole in your heart
had not swallowed your wind —
not sure how to pray or
who
what
to pray to —
but silently whimpering
please,
thank you,
I’ve never known such
fragile, fierce
love.

Eggshells know.
When broken, the large of the shell is
a magnet for the small shards of itself,
yearning for the essence of
its wholeness
now separate but still belonging.

The cord between me and you was short,
the delivery nurse said,
making your separation from me traumatic.
Even within I held you tight
but now learn and relearn that what I receive
I must also release.

Let me go, Mama, you’ll say to me later this day
when I hug you too tight after learning that
twenty children
twenty
children
barely older than you,
and six women warriors who fought for them,
were gunned down in their classrooms.
There are no words for this.

One
liked to ride horses and had asked Santa for cowgirl boots.
One
wanted to be an architect and a paleontologist when he grew up.
One
had convinced her mom to let her wear the pink dress
that was supposed to be saved for Christmas.
She was going to be an angel
in the nativity play that weekend.

We don’t yet know how we will weep
as we study their bright eyes and impish grins.
How their parents will never wake
to shudder and shake off
this nightmare.

But before that darkness corrodes our world
you will rise to the dawn of this day,
fill your backpack with small love notes
you’ve drawn for your kindergarten friends.

And when you open the door you will see that
shimmering white flurries have dusted the ground
and you’ll call out,
“Mama! The world has been frosted!
Come taste it!”

— Amy Rawe 12.14.12

A Prayer

mother boko haram girls

Today my heart is with the mothers of the girls abducted in Nigeria.

I cannot imagine how you
must fall to your knees,
claw trenches of anguish
in the dirt with fingers
that long to braid her
hair one more time.

You brave entering
the dark forest of thorns
too dangerous for soldiers,
clinging to the thinest hope
that you’ll find her wandering,
bloodied but free,
and you’ll hear her gasp,
“Mama?”

I cannot imagine how you strain
against the nightmares that ravage
your mind about what tortures your baby is
enduring — if she is still here,
on this merciless earth.

You gather with the other mothers,
journey to the capital to protest
and are told that the Senate
is considering a motion,
that you should calm down,
that everything would be done
to secure the release of the girls
in due course. 

“Due course” is a
cruel and foreign tongue
to a mother’s heart.
“Secure” and “calm” have
already been exposed
as shams.

So you keep pounding your fists
to the tempo of your heartbeat
because it is the only
constant you have.
And you pray.

Mothers around the world
sync our heartbeats
our prayers
with yours until the
drumbeat is deafening,
calling your girls home.

— Amy Rawe

Snake

My people gifted me the name u-tsa-na-ti,
but the white ones renamed me gray ratsnake
for my color and my prey.

I sidewind-slither among the trunks of the most hallowed aged ones—
pine, cedar, laurel, spruce, holly.
These stood vigil for seven days and nights
while the Great Spirit created all that is
above, below, here, within.
The grand sentries were rewarded
with loyal leaves that refuse to fall
with North Wind’s chilled caress.

Their roots stretch in sacred Appalachian soil,
an alchemy of clay, slate, granite,
on a limestone bed made from the
shells of ancient sea creatures.
Once unscarred by man’s slashes of demarcation,
the land still wails with the sorrows of spirits past.
The Trail of Tears washed
through this dung and dirt
as the Cherokee tribe was forced to walk
with babies in arms,
with elders crumbling to their knees,
for 1,000 miles.

One
thousand
miles.

My ratsnake ancestors, many skins long since shed
to the world beyond,
still whisper their truths.
We coiled our bodies into labyrinths, they hiss,
to lure the two-footed ones in other directions.
We hung from the limbs of our guardians and tried
to snag them as they walked by.

They hiss too of the small mockingbird
which darted across the trail
from pine to holly,
an oracle calling urgent warnings in
every language she knew.

They hiss of the mighty raincloud,
sodden with grief,
that swept across the sky to rain a river
the people would be unable to cross.

But like harsh wind to the cloud,
the people were pushed on by a cruel force.
Their blood flooded the dry creek bed,
splattering the sacred holly
with red droplets.

In the wreckage of such suffering,
the ratsnake, mockingbird, and raincloud
remain a trinity of gray,
mottled black with the color of death
and white with the color of peace.

More than two-thousand moons later,
they take refuge in earth’s mossy womb,
pregnant once again with
impermanence.

— Amy Rawe

New Life


Although I am not yet born,
still tumbling in the ocean
within you,
you saw me today
for the first time
through ultrasound.
You learned I am a girl
and you will name me Nina —
meaning strong and mighty.

I felt you shake as you cried
and the doctor asked
if you were disappointed by
my gender.
You were not.
But you shook with the gravity
of bringing a female into this world that
has chiseled you into a nice girl,
into this marriage that will
erode your voice
as you fail
to be the perfect wife,
the perfect anything.

But I will stir
the knowing
already within you.

For me,
you will one day
resurface
from the drowning to
gasp and sputter for air.

As I will do when I emerge from you,
you will take your
first breath,
crying out for new life.
And for me you will
re-learn your language,
as you teach me
my own first words.

You will croak guttural truth
after truth until the song of you
once again flows,
and you will sing to me
the lullaby of how to be
a strong woman,
how to swim free from
the undertow,
how to harness the tides of
fear and faith,
how to be the
moon of myself.

And once again
you will be pregnant
with possibility.

— amy rawe

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