My Mother Grasped My Hands in Hers
by Devon Miller-Duggan

and nuzzled my left hand.
I will have been ready for her leaving,
for the decade of it, of keeping my hands
beyond her kisses’ reach.
I was on the other side of razor-wire.

On some part of the planet I am a butterfly
which, when walking in the open with its wings closed
looks exactly like a brown leaf skittering across brown ground,
whose wings open to lapis, peacock, tangerine, coral—
perhaps by light breezes, perhaps vanity, perhaps tease.

Beside the, I was clear:
I could not climb over into her
heart. I did not want her on either side
of living, did not want her worship, yet I must
have opened to colors
only she ever saw, or said
only she could see.

I am brown-leaf-butterfly.
I couldn’t cross to her.
I couldn’t leave her in the field for dusk,
for her long dusk,
for her own wildness,
and the storms, coming from over the inevitable.
I could be neither leaf, nor visitor, nor comfort, nor blossom.
But I could break.


Published in Cider Press Review, Volume 21, Issue 2.

devon-miller-duggan_sqDevon Miller-Duggan has had poems appear in Rattle, Shenandoah, Margie, The Indiana Review, The Hollins Critic and elsewhere. She’s won an Academy of American Poets Prize, a fellowship from the Delaware Division of the Arts, and an editor’s prize in Margie.

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