Lifeline

wedged in the top branches, rain still sighing
to earth as a dissolute sky dissolves,
a mozambican woman turns mother,
her water breaking loose to pool with the flood

licking the trunk below, a country-sized
puddle calls forth the child whose name, the mother
vowed, would not be drowned, no matter how
high she had to climb. my mother's water

washed her bare yellow bathroom tile many
years ago, a diluvial warning
of my struggle to arrive. we fought to
get me out, and have been tugging at each

other ever since, tethered by a cord
that simply thickens when it's cut. we
descended then, thirsting, churning, not into
the waters that hound the mozambican

mother, baying her and her baby in
the tree, but into that enduring ocean
in which—as mother, daughter, or both—a
woman's only choices are drink or swim.

by Evie Shockley

Comments (1)

mother, baying her and her baby in the tree, but into that enduring ocean in which—as mother, daughter, or both—a woman's only choices are drink or swim. a very good poem. tony