“My Daughter Calls Me Hag” by Barbra Nightingale

Barbra Nightingale


then the B-word, followed
by the C-word just before—
or is it after
I boiled her in oil, stewed
her up in a bowl served to her father?
That’s one version.
Another says it’s smoke and mirrors,
a classic pull-the-wool-
and-be-done-with-it story
straight from no one’s mouth
tasting of nothing like truth.
But so it goes: her version,
my version,
the version before the sky fell,
the one before that, and at least
two or three that happened after.
I sit at my loom, counting stitches.
When I run out of numbers
perhaps I’ll understand
how we came to this:
bone in our teeth,
gums dripping blood.

from Rattle #41, Fall 2013
Tribute to Single Parent Poets

[download audio]


Barbra Nightingale: “I started writing poetry at age twelve because I couldn’t sleep and wanted to ‘empty my head.’ Of course my first poem was about boys: ‘Boys are cute/ But are always mute./ When finally voicing their feelings/ They get the apple, and we get the peelings.’ I didn’t know anything about meter (obviously), but I did know how to rhyme! Not only am I a single mother (having divorced when I was only 21 with a one-year-old), I am currently a single grandmother, raising (almost finished!) my now eighteen-year-old grandson.” (www1.broward.edu/~bnightin/)

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