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Elegy for a Mother, Still Living

by Elana Bell


The Lord gives everything and charges
by taking it back. —Jack Gilbert

I was formed inside the body
of a woman who wanted me
as she wanted her own life,
allowed to drink the milk
made only for me.
I was given mother-love,
its bounty and its cocoon
of those first years without language.
It is right to mourn the rocky hills
of Crete where we walked, my small
hand in hers for hours. The hidden
beach where we swam naked
then baked on the fine sand. Lazy
afternoons in her lap, thick
hand stroking my curls.
Her fingers have stiffened.
In her eyes, the eyes of an animal in pain.
I hold the memory of my mother
against the woman she is.

 

Elana Bell is featured in AGNI’s Emerging Poets Interview Series. Her first collection of poetry, Eyes, Stones, was chosen by Fanny Howe for the 2011 Walt Whitman Award and published by Louisiana State University Press in 2012. Her work has recently appeared in Harvard Review, Massachusetts Review, CALYX Journal, and elsewhere. She has led creative writing workshops for women in prison, for educators, for high school students in Israel, Palestine, and throughout the five boroughs of New York City, as well as for the pioneering peace building and leadership organization Seeds of Peace. She is writer-in-residence at the Bronx Academy of Letters and poetry editor of Jewish Journal. She lives in Brooklyn and can be found at www.elanabell.com. (1/2013)


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