by Susanna Lang

I have given my mother’s body into others’ hands;
have trusted her unsteady gait, her porous bones,
her sleepless nights and the music she holds in her hands

to their care; have let them cut her body open
with sharpened chisels, gouges, pliers and bone hooks;
have allowed the adulteration of her human parts

with foreign material. I have left her to sleep or not
in a strange bed, to recover or not, to get up
with only those other hands at her elbow and back;

to take her first hesitant steps with only their aid.
And during this time I’ve remembered each day to bring
a bowl of food to our space beneath the house

where a feral cat has taken shelter, have called
to the cat with a word he hears as food in the bowl
but not as a name that would mean he belongs to me,

which he does not. And then I’ve gone inside
to wrap myself in a blanket and wait for a call
from a woman who’s never been my mother’s daughter.


Published in Cider Press Review, Volume 20, Issue 1.

Susanna LangSusanna Lang’snew collection of poems, Travel Notes from the River Styx, was released in summer 2017 from Terrapin Books. Her last collection was Tracing the Lines (Brick Road Poetry Press, 2013).  A two-time Hambidge fellow, her poems have appeared in such journals as Little Star, Prairie Schooner, december, Prime Number Magazine and Verse Daily, as well as an earlier issue of Cider Press Review.  Her translations of poetry by Yves Bonnefoy include Words in Stone and The Origin of Language.  Among her current projects is Self-Portraits, a chapbook collection of ekphrastic poems focused on women across the arts. She lives in Chicago, and teaches in the Chicago Public Schools.

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