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Parasol, and: The Madwoman's Daughter
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Parasol, and: The Madwoman's Daughter


You could still become a queen.When, a slip of a girl,

you directed treesto lower their limbs,

neither fire ants nor sapcould stop your climb,

nor rain that lightly fell,misting leaves.

Inside a story's spell,you find your way back,

where a stone on a path waitsfor you to stumble.

Like the kaleidoscope's contents,time is jumbled, opening at will.

Now: a too-bright sun and you,teetering on a wall,

parasol clutched tight as you tumble.This parasol is, for a moment,

everything you've lostand all that can console. [End Page 409]

The Madwoman's Daughter

All my life, I have been pursuedby whispers—what pickney so greedyit consume its own muma?

I was born at the time of day betweennight and morning, the hourof duppies and dream.

My mother's screams seamedthe world I left and the one I entered,her spirit extinguished

the instant mine lit.Before language possessed me,I knew my life would be marked

by her sorrow, pressed into my skin;by her laughter, broken stonesthat fill my mouth.

Now when wind gathers at the edgesof dawn, I listen for my mother's wailrattling through the cane.

I listen to recall:no one asks for the mealthat leaves us hungry.

Yet we eat. [End Page 410]

Shara McCallum

Shara McCallum, originally from Jamaica, lives with her family in Pennsylvania, where she is director of the Stadler Center for Poetry and a professor of English at Bucknell University. She is the author of four books of poetry, including The Face of Water: New and Selected Poems and This Strange Land and has received the Agnes Lynch Starrett Poetry Prize and a National Endowment for the Arts poetry fellowship.