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Margo Taft Stever

My Mother is Dying


In the place where she belongs,

suffering erases itself, doves

bring her seeds, horses sleep

next to her in the straw,

where she belongs; a welcoming

place holds her, keeps her

from running away—the green

greenness of the hay turning to gold.

Already, the rain's restless

trajectory. My mother is busy dying;

she no longer knows my name.

This is the wand of Eden,

the wind of change, the last slave

of silence, the knave of rain, so quiet

the roving of each quest. Let her

be buried in the sea by the sea berry,

the briar rock, the fossil chamber.

Alone, blown, roadside

stray, the flown restless way-

ward ringing, bells clang,

ocean downcast, rolls.

Wandering once again, now I

return to the center, searching

the level earth, calling her name,

remembering once again that I am

alive, that I am lost.


The path unfurls before my dog

and me, walking to the rocks, the ocean

on one side, the bay on the other

eider ducks blessing the waves.

The seagulls spontaneous burst,

how it hurts, with the radio blaring.

My mother is dying, gone from

a body that has abandoned her.

Cry because so much goes

haywire, because this is

the lyre, the field-worn

answer, the childless

response, children

displaced and

waiting for someone

to bring them home.

Strange Familiarities of Death

The man who had no hope

of dry cleaning burnt his store

to get insurance. The army

chaplain spoke of a mushroom

cloud as beautiful. Generals

shredded reports of danger.

"This bomb is only a test,"

the radio blurted. The women

of St. Johns, Utah, saw

the cloud rise, the searing wind.

Soldiers lowered into fox holes.

"You have nothing to fear.

Stay inside your houses."

The force of the wind was

molten iron blowing over them.

Blood ran from their eyes.

They could see bones

through their skin. The earth

burned their feet. The snow

when it came later was gray.

Margo Taft Stever's four poetry collections are The Lunatic Ball, The Hudson Line, Frozen Spring, Mid-List Press First Series Award for Poetry, and Reading the Night Sky, Riverstone Poetry Chapbook Competition. In 2019, CRACKED PIANO, will be published by CavanKerry Press. Her poems have appeared widely in literary magazines and anthologies including Blackbird, Salamander, Prairie Schooner, Poem-A-Day, New England Review, Cincinnati Review, Rattapallax, Webster Review, Dire Elegies, Chance of a Ghost, and No More Masks. She is the founder of The Hudson Valley Writers' Center and the founding and current co-editor of Slapering Hol Press. For more, visit

— posted September 2017

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