Motherhood Literature + Art

Barbara Conrad – Beauty Queen

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Barbara Conrad


Beauty Queen

Her shoes are bolted to the linoleum floor.
Practical flats, black and rubber-soled.

In a top drawer next to the sink, fistfuls
of used tin foil — no waste, no wishes.

Before she swapped her office job for a new last name
and this tidbit of a life, before she was my mother,

she might have been a beauty queen
(or a kindergarten teacher she once told me).

Now she stands at the window
dreaming of fairies with green wings

dancing on the lawn. I’m making this up — but look.
One is holding a martini glass. Another wearing
red lipstick, blowing kisses. I hear an audience
cheering for an encore. I hear my mother

at the sink, humming a tune I barely know,
watching violets grow wild in untended grass.


Barbara Conrad is author of three poetry collections: The Gravity of Color, Wild Plums, There Is a Field, and editor of Waiting for Soup, an anthology from her writing group with homeless folks. Her work has appeared in Tar River Poetry, Atlanta Review, Nine Mile, NC Literary Review, Broad River, Pembroke and numerous anthologies. Her subjects range from ironic takes on life to hard truths about social injustice, hopefully with a bit of attitude.


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