SWWIM publishes, celebrates, & promotes women, women-identifying & Femme-presenting writers through a Miami-based reading series & the online poetry journal SWWIM Every Day.

Mother by Catherine Keefe

as dictionary. Silent as the word

book. Unabridged. Not the kind

you carry in your back pocket. You

 

must go home to stand agape before

that hand-hewn cherry wood table

lit by rainbow of abalone glass

 

holding all the words, a sketch of starlings

flooding the Iowa plains just before

snow falls. At your fingertips. Dog

 

ear me. Highlight. Memorize. How

long it took to write the first

Oxford English Dictionary?

 

Seventy years. An almost life-

time to gather precise meaning. Unused

words kicked to the curb for rubbish

 

pick-up. I've thrown away so much. Once

I said the right thing and you leaned forward

so quickly I couldn't uncross my arms. Crack

 

my spine to find crumbs and new

adjectives. This is my body for you

to find your way. Pluck

 

grace notes like the guitarist

on the green that summer

before the great migration.


Catherine Keefe is a California poet, essayist, social justice activist, and 2017 Pushcart Prize nominee. Recent work appeared in TAB: The Journal of Poetry and Poetics; The Gettysburg Review; and the anthologies Forgotten Women: A Tribute in Poetry (Grayson Books, 2017) and Thirty Days: The Best of Tupelo Press 30/30 Project's First Year (2015). Catherine teaches writing at Chapman University and is a member of the Orange County Human Relations Commission Anti-Hate Speakers Assembly.

Sign by Susana H. Case

Summer by Sandra Marchetti