All in by Devon Balwit

by Devon Balwit

The handmaid will do anything for her child—
Reductive, this mother-love above all others.
I, who have mothered, know other hungers.

She stays long after she has the chance to go—
Reductive, this mother-love above all others.
I’d have chosen books over the lost child.

No job, mate, friend until the stolen daughter’s gotten—
Reductive, this mother-love above all others.
I’d have left her to be a different kind of person.

Though daughter cells reside inside her, she chooses—
reductive—this mother-love above all others.
Like mine, her biome’s vaster, a hundred fastnesses.

She glares daggers but grabs the gallows-rope—
Reductive, this mother-love above all others.
I’d not cost lives, just spend my own.

I feel bullied to look longingly at children—
reductive—this mother-love above all others.
I’d pick, instead, the icy swim across the border.

Devon Balwit teaches in the Pacific Northwest. Her most recent collection is titled A Brief Way to Identify a Body (Ursus Americanus Press). Her individual poems can be found here at SWWIM Every Day as well as in The Worcester Review, The Cincinnati Review, Tampa Review, Apt (long-form issue), Tule Review, Grist, Rattle, and O:JAL, among others. For more, see https://pelapdx.wixsite.com/devonbalwitpoet.

by Devon Balwit

            (Mary Oliver, 1935-2019)

 

The snide will ever be snide, complaining
that a marmot isn’t a red-tail, disappointed
that the chamber quartet doesn’t beatbox,
wanting white bread to spice itself into dal,
condemning the popular, their own envy
visible like a slip sagging beneath a hem.
She never seems to be in her poems,
a critic complains, but outside them,
putting them together from the available
literary elements.
Where else would a poet work,
and what else with, drawing the outside in,
a diligent gleaner? Another, deriding her
homiletic upward yearning jokes
that no animals appear to have been harmed
in the making of her poems. No. Only that critic’s
sensibilities. The rest of us hang on the cries
of her wild geese, harsh and exciting,
announcing our place in the family of things
.
We sit in pews, on yoga mats, on buses,
at kitchen tables, hoping for words
to lighten our burden. We want the ordinary
to be consecrated, for most of us only ever
abide there—no more special than our good dog
sniffing the common yards of our common streets.

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Devon Balwit's most recent collection is A Brief Way to Identify a Body (Ursus Americanus Press). Her individual poems can be found at SWWIM Every Day, The Cincinnati Review, Tampa Review, Fifth Wednesday (on-line), Apt, Grist, and Oxidant Engine, among others. For more on her book and movie reviews, chapbooks, collections and individual works, see her website at https://pelapdx.wixsite.com/devonbalwitpoet.