Taming My Mother’s Tongue by Zoë Christopher

Living too long in glass houses, careless
now private thoughts on my lips

I descend into a fleshy silence conjuring
my mother’s frayed coyote soul. I can hear

her splintering howl, barbed tongue lashing
like teeth into my innocence and needs.

I could not bolt the door against my ripening,
she said I came to spoil hers. I would learn

I could not cradle her feral demons, soothe her
madness without risking the skin of my bones.

Now too frail to pounce and strike, she’s lost
and stumbles toward me, a plea in her silence.

We sit and pray together until the old camellia
leaves of my childhood glisten in the night rain

and the moon coaxes golden shadows from
the dampened scent of winter viburnum.

And so the sluicing begins, the eloquence
of water taming my mother’s tongue.

Zoë Christopher is a photographer and writer who published her first poem at 16. Soon after she was sidetracked, putting food on the table as an ice-cream truck driver, waitress, medical assistant, addictions counselor, astrologer, art installer, bookseller, Holotropic breathworker, and trainer of psychospiritual crisis support. (She didn’t get paid for milking goats, teaching photography, or raising her son!) She holds a Masters in transpersonal psychology, and spent 20+ years working in adolescent and adult crisis intervention and support. Her work has appeared in print in great weather for MEDIA, and online in The Writing Disorder and WordsDance.

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