Melissa McEwen

I recently discovered that I belong in a metropolis. I never got my driver’s license and in the city there are trains, taxis, and everything is in walking distance. Plus, there are so many artistic happenings going on. I love the energy of cities.

Twitter.com/@dopenoire

Books: Saturday Pie (GOSS 183: Casa Menendez in 2010)

Publications:

  • “LueBertha” was recently published in Dead Mule School of Southern Literature (January 2011)
  • Three poems are forthcoming in Black Magnolias (Summer 2011).
  • “Thieves Like Us” is also forthcoming in Tilt-a-Whirl.

Poems:

Mama’s Pocketbook


She would never let me go
through it—her pocketbook—
let alone carry it because
pocketbooks belonging to mothers
are private things like sealed envelopes.
But sometimes she’d go downstairs
in a hurry, leaving her pocketbook
on the floor by the foot of her bed
and she’d holler from the bottom of the stairs
Bring me down my pockabook.
This was the chore I liked best—fetching her
her pocketbook. The thick brown leather
strap on my shoulder made me feel like a Mrs.
on her way downtown to buy imitation silk blouses
and wool pencil skirts for work. And even though ma
was in a rush to get to the store ‘fore it closed for
some confectioner’s sugar. I took my sweet
time, moseyed on down the stairs with the
strap slipping down my arm.

*

The Heat my Mother Knew


The furnace is slow coming on,
so I stand at the stove in my January coat, waiting
for the oven to warm, waiting
to make breakfast. And it’s these chilly spring
Connecticut mornings that make me long
for the heat my mother knew
living just outside of Andalusia. The heat
that made her visiting-from-up-north cousins turn
their backs on their birthplace, swear that
when they were old enough they’d move
down to Alabama and never look back. They were
fed up with the cold and the snow.
But my mother, too, was fed up with her own town,
the slow pace and the day to day sameness.
She wanted a change and in the middle
of the living room one day she broke
the news to her family, said she was going to go
live with relatives up in Hartford, bought
herself a heavy coat     —then split.
What was she thinking? Why did she go? her
mama’s friends must’ve asked, wanting to know
what I want to know, today, as I lean on the stove, lost
in a dream about burning up and sweating, fanning myself and panting
in my mother’s mother’s kitchen that must be hot
already from the early morning sun.

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