The Best Literary Writing About Mothers and Motherhood

Jericho Hocket – Night Shift (the Wheel of Fortune tarot)

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Jericho Hocket

 

Night Shift (the Wheel of Fortune tarot)

–for my mother Janice, upon her retirement

You have remained
awake through seven thousand
midnights blessing life
instead of fearing
fatigue at your heels: a juvenile,
striped yellow to hide
among bulrushes and reeds.
You have protected him,
mother, with ferocity, fed
him snails and kindness until
his egg tooth reabsorbed. Your fingers
have known how to bud
flowers to draw insects
he could eat. You have offered
him all your small
elements: fish, minutes, air,
opportunities as you have
supervised exhaustion’s
growth in the shallows.
Your heart has paid for lapses
in attention to your charge
with flames darkening
the marsh’s mud in ash, burning patches
of your skin shielding him
in armor of bony scutes.
Your hands have set
peat afire, revealing his true
size. Time has come for him
to go. Now you may submerge
yourself to the neck
where you have dug substrate
and vegetation in a limestone
alligator hole bed. There, love
will clean you as you prepare to sleep.
Awake, refreshed, starlight
adorning your path
in rose moss
guiding you home.

 


Jericho’s roots are in the farm in Kansas, and she blooms in Topeka with Eddy, Evelynn, and Bastion. She is a poet, social psychologist, teacher, forever student, and dreamer, most whole in the green. Some recent poems appear in High Desert Journal and Coffin Bell. Instagram: @jerichomariette

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