"We are volcanoes. When we women offer our experience as our truth, as human truth, all the maps change. There are new mountains."
- Ursula K. LeGuin, Bryn Mawr commencement address, 1986
Denise Breeden-Ost wrote her first poem—a riddle about a Crock-Pot—while walking home from kindergarten. A few decades later, her first novel, Making It All Right, can be found at Clockflower Press. Denise lives on a ridgetop near Bloomington, Indiana with a small family, a large garden, and innumerable trees.
Welcome to the Poets Weave. I'm Romayne Rubinas Dorsey. Denise, what poems have you brought for us today?
Mom's Front Porch
I'm just leaving--porch swing swaying empty,
my arms full--when suddenly instead
I'm telling her how this is,
my son grown and about to go
with so much unfinished.
How will I watch him walk away
into nobody knows what?
I know, everybody suffers.
I know, it's time. I even know distance
might ease the wariness between us,
let the past finally rest. Still.
My voice is stiff with pain and patience,
brittle with hope.
Mom's eyes are full. She says
This is when I need to hug you,
but it's the pandemic.
Her hands lie open on the arms of her chair.
And for the first time, I feel all the years
she's watched us walk away
into nobody knew what.
She knows exactly how this is.
She's showing me how it's done.
Like Catching a Glimpse of Love
Alone in the car with jazz,
redbuds purple and the windows down.
In the right lane, somebody
waves a long arm.
I turn, already waving back
--because only a friend waves like that--
at the smiling young man.
Shock of recognition:
that's my son.
Grinning redhead, beautiful human
swooshing by, hand scooping the wind.
There isn't time to need
to teach or protect or change him,
to congratulate or blame myself.
There isn't time to try
to hold on or let go.
I see him. I wave.
I forget to stop at the post office.
I follow him out the highway
toward home, where we pass each other every day.
Already I'm groping for words, to remember:
It was like bumping into someone you're in love with
--leaping heart, giddy joy.
It was like all my armor was gone.
Beyond the dented guardrails on Steven's Creek Hill,
new leaves look glad and fragile.
I think of the mother who watched
her daughter's car leave the road and roll
over and over.
Don't do that, I say, powerless.
It was like a full cup, about to spill over.
We both make it home.
Already I'm forgetting.
He eats yogurt and talks about his job,
this son I carry infant through my dreams,
lift clear of the flood, mourn, wean again.
This son whose voice now booms like a man's,
whose other hand lay steady on the wheel.
You Used to Crochet Just for This
The pleasure of unraveling,
loop after loop softly undoing itself.
Pattern dwindles. Stars show underfoot.
Afraid, you tug again. The thread in your fingers
chuckles as it lets go.
You've been listening to the poetry of Denise Breeden-Ost. I'm Romayne Rubinas Dorsey.