Author | Marianne Peel

I don’t recognize the crazed mother
I’ve become when they walk through the door.

No hugs or rushing to greet me.
Those hellos that used to knock me almost off my knees
with their giggling thrust into my arms are now so gone
and replaced with whispers between them confirming
it’s all my fault
this monster who has rejected their father.

They know nothing of drowned passion
of rigid backs in the night of disembodied sex
drained of all intimacy. I left their father
because I couldn’t pretend anymore
because behind the shut-tight eyes I was
floating in a foreign land, wandering,
further and farther away, wrapped in my
exotic scarves, a patchwork of a palette

And when they walk through the door now they drag
in such hatred, such acidic accusation.

As if I could remain false without my bones
fragmenting under my skin, splintering my marrow.
I cannot count the shards that swim and slug
beneath my skin. 

They won’t comply with the simplest
of requests like please wash your hands before dinner
or please place your clean laundry in your drawers
or please brush your teeth before going out into
the world becomes a battleground of feet
stomping up the stairs behind slammed doors.
Their disdain simmers beneath the surface of their skin
raw like uncooked meat boiled under the slab of sun.

Even when I squint my sore eyes at night
I no longer recognize my own daughters…

About the Author | Marianne Peel taught English at middle and high school for 32 years. She is now retired, doing Field Instructor work at Michigan State University. She recently won 1st prize for poetry in the Spring 2016 Edition of the Gadfly Literary Magazine. She also won the Pete Edmonds Poetry Prize. In addition, Marianne has been published in Muddy River Review; Silver Birch Press; Eastlit; Persephone’s Daughters; Encodings: A Feminist Literary Journal; Write to Heal; Writing for Our Lives: Our Bodies—Hurts, Hungers, Healing; Mother Voices; Metropolitan Woman Magazine; Ophelia’s Mom; Jellyfish Whispers; Remembered Arts Journal. Marianne also received Fulbright-Hays Awards to Nepal and Turkey. She is a flute playing vocalist, learning to play ukulele, who is raising four daughters. She shares her life with her partner Scott, whom she met in Istanbul while studying in Turkey. Marianne also taught teachers in Guizhou Province, China for three summers, and she also toured several provinces in China with the Valpraiso Symphony, playing both flute and piccolo, in January of 2016. Recently, Marianne was invited to participate in Marge Piercy’s Juried Intensive Poetry Workshop in June 2016. This fall, she journeyed to Georgia O’Keefe’s Ghost Ranch in New Mexico, where she took part in an amazing Narrative Poetry Writing Seminar.

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