Instead, I spotted our mother in a tiny
chair in the back row, her blue-black head
shining unnaturally. She was dressed in
clothes she’d laid out carefully in her
mind the day before, when her hands
were moving along spools of every color,
bright rainbow of threads flying through
air as loud as a train. It cost her half a day’s
piece-work to see her boy and girl out-read them all.
Her own English, bent and twisted still, even
after all those years, carried whiffs of garlic and
fish sauce. Secretly, we hoped she would be silent.
At home, where every night we waited for
the rice to steam, her chatter lulled us to sleep.
Added: Monday, July 21, 2014 / Sevick's poem took First Place in the Split This Rock 2012 Poetry Contest. We are grateful to Naomi Shihab Nye, judge of the 2012 contest.
Leona Sevick serves as Associate Provost and faculty member in the department of English at Mount St. Mary's University in Emmitsburg, Maryland. She earned a doctorate in literature from the University of Maryland and has written extensively on the work of the writer Willa Cather. Her most recent poems appear in Memoir Journal and are forthcoming in Bateau. She writes poems and stories about growing up in an ethnically mixed family in rural America.