Back to Issue Twenty-Eight.

Mother Country


My mother was a dead doll. I held her
                           hand in the land of the dead
              and did not turn away.
In the land where the animals made no sound,
        where the cows stood at the empty lake and wept
               dry tears, and the deer waited by the long stalks of dead grass,
                         and everything whitened in the heat, I did not
        turn away from my mother,
                her eyes, empty of their water.
My country: dark and flat like tar
   you could drown in,
dark as night with no moon,
     a lake with no bottom: nowhere to rest,
          and full of the bones of beasts no one knows the names of.
The distance between our countries sang.
The distance between us a song
       played on the strings of a great instrument
              we do not see but know is there
like the invisible particles that make up all matter,
         even the breath,
                even the breath fogging the glass behind which my mother waits,
the air suspended between us: no matter the distance.

elana bell

Elana Bell is the author of Mother Country (BOA Editions, forthcoming) and Eyes, Stones (Louisiana State University Press 2012), winner of the 2011 Walt Whitman Award form the Academy of American Poets. Her work has appeared in AGNI, Massachusetts Review, Harvard Review, Barrow Street, and the Southern Review, among others.


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