The blue mother lives on the moon.
She is a mortar and pestle,
grinding her children as she sees fit.
It is love, the way she crushes them.
Bits of love fall around her like crumbs.
She sends a message to her eldest:
Do not come home until your life
is straightened out. Maybe then.
He sees a table laid out for guests,
the children and grandchildren,
the blue mats and white napkins,
the milk and bread, the white bowl
like a moon on the table.
The mother is in the blue kitchen.
Rice is cooking on the stove.
The rasp of the pestle fills the air
with dust, like dry leaves
from the garden, ground into
something very, very fine.
Ed Madden is a professor of English and director of Women’s and Gender Studies at the University of South Carolina. He is the author of four books of poetry, most recently Ark, a memoir in poetry about his father’s last months in home hospice care. His work has appeared in Crazyhorse, Prairie Schooner, Poetry Ireland Review, and elsewhere. In 2015 he was named the city poet laureate for Columbia, SC.