We were in the National Museum of Women
in the Arts,looking at dresses by Mary McFadden,
our English Major minds thinking of goddesses
like Aphrodite, Venus, Jackie Kennedy,
their pleated tunics, their embroidered
and beaded gowns. We were talking
about Enheduanna,the first poet,
and what her words mean now, coming down
through the fabric of time. But what was
on our hearts,here in the Capitol, where men
make monuments of cold white stones,
was our mothers, both recently gone.
Their absence, an old one, Persephone
and Demeter in reverse, winterís frozen
length of shot-silk, springís return
in green brocade. But there is no
returning in this story, each of us
unmothered now. Grief has dressed us
in black caftans. Across town,
in the Tidal Basin, the Yoshino
cherry trees have let down
their gorgeous petals,wrapping the earth
in pink ribbons, the way a ballerina tapes
her ankles in silk that seems fragile,
but is strong enough to keep her
on her toes as long as she needs
to remain en pointe.
~Barbara Crooker

poems online



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