Three Poems

Poetry
Ann K. Dowd


Broken Spine
—for my mother at ninety-two

Her back is crooked
dreadfully and unbearably so
splintering
ready to split at any moment
the slightest movement altering will and bone
out of kilter much like her life
living at sharp angles
never able to rest on soft edges.

A shrunken torso
accommodates a swollen belly
from which hang useless legs
and when I move her
from bed to wheelchair
to commode to bed again
she calls out my name in pain
but when I say
I am sorry
it is she who apologizes
as if her ramshackle body
should take the blame
be accountable
for my feelings of discomfort
at seeing her in such ill form
but it’s her habit to ask for forgiveness
so hurt she is by a life
she feels has let her down.

I don’t know at what moment
I began to miss my mother
though maybe
it was when her spine began to fail her
because as I watched it
gradually fold over her neck
reaching to encapsulate
the small gray head
she reminded me
of a frightened periwinkle
gone inside itself out of confusion and fear
against an unseen enemy
arranging to take her away.

 

Words

A writing life often models a still-life
that appears to be still
but actually moves in undulating subtlety.
An apple, pear, lemon, squash!
I see the colors of the food and I salivate.

I am consumed by colors.
Like diving into a rainbow splash!
The colors create images
that the words define and crystallize.

 

Tattoo

D.C.

my father
tattooed
his initials
on his
forearm
in eye-
catching
position
as he
worked
as if he
could forget
his name
needed
to be
reminded
that
he was
an Italian
immigrant
with a
fourth grade
education
whose
father
kept
a belt
across
his lap
during
meals

Connection

my tattoo
is not
my name
or my
initials
or a
symbol
of my
heritage
but like
my father’s
it’s on
my
forearm
where
I see it
when
I write
as a
reminder
of his
history
and the
scars
he passed
down
to his
daughter

 

pencil

“I hold a doctorate in Comparative Literature from the University of Hong Kong and have enjoyed teaching in universities both overseas and in the U.S. My main focus now, however, is my writing and I was awarded an Honorable Mention for my poetry from New Millennium Writings, 2004. Recently relocated to the Nevada desert from the east coast, I am newly inspired by the western landscape and heritage.” E-mail: annkdowd[at]yahoo.com.

Print Friendly