Mother With Daughter, 2001

In May of 2001 I experienced a full-term stillbirth, laboring with my first daughter, Aislinn Maeve, who died of heart disease with a hole in her left vertricle. I was lucky that the doctor could provide a reason for her death, as I know that the cause of death remains a mystery in so many stillbirth situations. I often think about Aislinn and all the good things that she brought into my life. I speak to her, as one of my guides. She would be 22 years old today, and even though I have come to reflect on her death with much positivity in my life, it also will always occupy a place of sadness for me — a feeling that I do not seek to change. I’d like to share a poem that I wrote called “Mother with Daughter, 2001” in which I tried very hard to remember that difficult experience 22 years ago — an experienced I tried so hard to never forget. In this poem I try to remember how I felt, what I saw…what it was like to hold her for the first and last time.

Mother and DaUGHTER, 2011

I remembered when I held the last body,
her face not perennial, a soft rose whose season had passed.
The stem of her spine laid down in my palm,
as if she could bloom if I gave
her everything I had. The first look I took
at you lingered on your face petals,
ruddy pink-cream and once,
alive. I wrung out all
the unsuckled milk from the cloth of my breasts,
their fibers twisting against an unfolding
mouth, to bring you to life, with soul portions  
of flesh to eat as cake. The husk and rind
of my body laid prostrate, a mother
wound for you –
the feast of generations.

Danse Macabre: Grendles Modor

I am so happy to announce that a poem that I wrote entitled “Grendles Modor” has been published in Danse Macabre Journal’s “DM Du Jour.”

I wrote the poem when I was an undergraduate back in 1998 when I read Beowulf for the first time. Two years ago (in 2018) I went back and edited the poem because I was teaching Beowulf in my World Literature course and felt a new inspiration. My revision goal was to highlight the feminine power of Grendel’s mother, who was always the most fascinating character for me in the epic poem.

Find the poem here: https://dmdujour.wordpress.com/2020/12/07/jenn-avery-grendles-modor/, or read the poem below (with proper formatting).

Timpani

I suppose my heart
May be just like that

Timpani

So coarse but limber
Enough

To stretch its membrane
Out of reach then past —

Before jerking back to just
Wobble out a pure note

Its soft swell harbored in
Hard frameworks

It’s difficult to know how
The hollow bowl

Resounds

Inside me my heart it
Rings

A strange sound
For a drum

I sit beside it which is stranger
Still

 

Joy

What is sacrificed first, almost with joy,
But not with joy;

Joy, itself

Gibing down the dream corridor
Tantalized by its soul-balm

Reveries pirouetting or tango-doing
Across an incandescent slurry of something

Of mine

Mine of rapture-crusted jewelries
Resplendent with giggling

From a belly
Bursting with feast of the most sumptuous sort

A joy,
The imagining of its return

A joy,
Somewhat, its privation

Bloom’s End

I tried to live at the top of that tree
In twigs, no matter the frailty
The green blaze, a din of temporality
Swept through with reserve

I fell to the trunk
The spine of an open book
Roofed over my heart:
The Return of the Native
Eustacia Vye’s heart and mine
Loosed in Egdon Heath

I wouldn’t mind all that furze
But for the hot walk home
Away from the tree and its supports
As it shoves me out
And back to Bloom’s End

I  run backward
And see it as a snapshot
Where I lived for a time –

I could say that it was green forever
But I’d be lying

The Red Armchair, By Picasso

Were I to paint
A self-portrait,
There you all would be.

Beneath my face, another
All you nesting dolls
Heaped beneath the sheath.

Seventy fingers entwined
Resting on my manifold thighs
Pointing all directions
Mostly behind.

A pillow breast so large
For all I stashed away and saved
A withered tag slouched
By my arm
For all the whiles I gave.

My body curves
In all directions,
Because muscle remembers
The body’s infections.

Croton Plant

Waking with nonentity
Beside

A leaf-adorned plant
Draped in all that green
Luxury.

So jealous
Of its photosynthesis.

All the veined fronds cuddle
Swigging light together
Toasting their companionship.

Organ over organ, stretching
Out for provision
From the sun.

But think of the pot
The soil
A relentless want
Of water
To heal
Its incessant wilt.

It too, is exposed
It too, alive
With the fear
That its sustenance
Will vanish.

Or that everything will:
Leaves, plant, and sun together
Leaving only a woman
Displaced
In uninhabited space.

Everyone knows
Loneliness
Must always be the tonic
For a longing of verdure.