EXCERPTS


IN MY NATIVE TONGUE

Mary Margaret Carlisle


on Queen Ann street
rows of rough red brick houses
each touched with gray mortar
six long steps rise
to origami squares of covered porches

in the seventh house from the end
stored in a cool basement converted coal bin
shelves filled with mason jars of strawberry jam
apricot butter, spiced brandied peaches
still await a feather duster

upstairs in a tiny kitchen
wooden chairs scraped grooves
in beige linoleum scrubbed so many times
black diamond patterns fade
beneath the bleach

behind the house
two old oaks so strongly grew into each other
one trunk lifted both sets of branches
there, in deep shade, my sister
you and I traded rhythm and cadence
a particular way of speaking without accent
Midwest imprinted on each word

a tongue that still speaks
of my Missouri home

Poems used with permission of the authors, and may not be re-used without their permission.