Blue Mountain Arts
Blue Mountain Arts
Blue Mountain Arts

Poetry Contest Winners :: Fifteenth Contest :: First Place Winner

Moon Phases: For My Mother as She Turns Sixty

by Leah M. Plath
Rusted train trestles cut a swath of steel through
the grasping branches.
She leads me into blackberries
nestled amid heavy-leaved bushes that reach
tendrils around our ankles.
We wade into the green,
stray from tracks overgrown
with bending dandelions
and pluck the rich black
tongue-curling sweetness.

I see her at my age.
She is the crescent moon, blonde curls and blue jeans,
berries overflowing the milk pail clutched
with purple-stained fingers
that mirror mine.
She is a fine sliver in the sky.

For me she wears yellow
and her belly swells like the moon
as I push relentlessly outward
seeking sunlight,
inexorable as time.
I draw upon her strength to grow —
then and now.

She spins cobwebs of lace, body curved as if in prayer
over the cold iron of the sewing machine
whose needle flashes through the rhythmic humming.
I lie awake, listening.
In this way, my First Communion
comes before incense and wooden pews:
I commune here first as my mother sews
salvation and forgiveness into white muslin
and makes angel wings of lace-capped sleeves.

We, her children, burn hot as suns
consuming the embers of time.
At night we slumber in the shadow of our dreams,
and she is the full moon —
luminous from our reflected glow,
an oasis from the day's turmoil,
a quenching stillness of cool water.

It is the new moon time.
My mother weaves stories
from the fabric of her life
and wraps them around us.
She is the wise-woman
grown into her skin and her words.
Her wisdom is filtered through time
and alternately sweet and bitter
on our tongues.
I submerge myself in this deep water;
she soaks into my skin.
My mother holds the sons and daughters
of her sons and daughters
with hands that plucked blackberries.

I understand her through the memories
that beat moth-wings against my mind,
scattering the dust of her life and mine.
They blend together.
Second Place Winner
Blue Mountain Arts