Hot Metal Bridge

Current Issue : Number Twenty-Five

Becoming My Mother


I birthed a flock of angry bucks.
A hive of crooked gears, a legion of dirges.
Unbelievable, this pedigree.
Blue rattlesnakes, flaming ghosts,
a city of toothless sharks.
I gave each child a hearty name.
Bottom. Shoelace. Ripple. Girl.
I ached to be the perfect mother.
I’d shine their teeth, oil their hair.
Preen and hum, stroll the park.
The first to speak had a voice of thorns.
I sang a lullaby and she slapped me.
The next hissed a curse. Then another.
My tongue curled. Dried to dust.
They kept coming, each hex more cruel.
My hands withered. Bones, caved.
The mob gathered in the kitchen,
thick as witches. Crooned my failures.
My hair caught fire. They hissed,
refused me water. I piled like sand.
They rattled. Heckled. Howled.


Jeanann Verlee is the author of Racing Hummingbirds (Write Bloody Publishing), recipient of the Independent Publisher Book Award Silver Medal in Poetry. She has also been awarded the Sandy Crimmins National Prize for Poetry. Her work appears in The New York Quarterly, Rattle, and failbetter, among others, and she is a poetry editor for Union Station Magazine. Verlee wears polka dots and believes in you.