The Dead Mule School of Southern Literature

Felicia Mitchell: Four Poems


Waiting with Crows

“That’s not my mother,”
I mutter to myself—
as audible as crows
cawing above my head,
above her head,
that small old woman
wearing scuffs for slippers,
not edema socks with dirty soles.

The ambulance driver hears me.
The small old woman hears me too.
Even the crows hear me,
our voices crossing like leaves
on a blustery day, this day.

My mother, still en route,
is the only one who doesn’t hear me.
And so I wait, worrying:
worrying about my mother,
worrying about the small old woman
who has arrived at the ER alone,
worrying about words.

Nobody’s last thought should be,
“No, I’m not her mother.”

And so I wait some more.
Crows keep me company,
their caws more than caws.
I stretch my legs to draw closer.
Somebody could be calling,
“You who are weary, come home.”

You who are weary, come home,
or come to this hospital, now, right now,
wearing slippers or socks,
softly and tenderly,  in an ambulance,
come home, mother mother,
come home.


Wake Robin

After the door closes,
and my mother goes back in—
back to nursing home halls
that frame her days,
back to her Noah’s Ark—
the earth turns on its axis
and I leave the way I came in.

Earlier, in the car, her eyes shut,
my mother clutched her seat
while I pointed out tulips
I thought she would want to see
after a winter inside.

It wasn’t until we stopped for coffee
that she opened her eyes and smiled
at three flowering pears.

When wind blew white petals
into the open windows of the car,
we laughed and held them in our hands.

Now my mother is back inside,
where she wants to be,
and I am outside, seeing things
she will never see now.

Trillium grows by a river,
five deer graze in an open field,
and a mallard in a parking lot
looks for another duck.


Love Poem Without a Body

How will I hold you in my arms
when both my arms are gone,
and where will you lay your head then
when there is nowhere to lay your head?
What will we do with our longing
when my ashes blow across the valley?
Who will count the hairs on my head?

When your hand reaches out for mine,
and there is nothing but dead air,
listen for the echo of my fingers.

When my lips reach out for yours,
you will look over your shoulders
to see if a hummingbird is hovering near
even in the dead of winter.


Fairy Stones


Lopsided wings,
an angel shrugging.


Chip on a shoulder
as big as a heart.


A cross to bear.


Study for a torso
to be cast in bronze.


Words in a matrix
as if in a maze.

6 .

Worry stone
with wings.


Stone tears.