Poetry from Web Del Sol

The Poetry of Joan Houlihan


I make a little mother out of mud, sticks
and a bit of gauze. Once formed and dried,
she's bound to disappear: powder to my fingers.
All my plaster saints go down that way.
Wormwood. Gall. Holes of age.

Not that it matters, but
I once saw Mars through a telescope:
pockmarked, awash in gas, but distant enough
to have dignity. All this farawayness has to stop.
So much homesickness, but so little home

and so many notions they call tradition.
Knife, fork, whip of potatoes—all the womanly arts,
are not so much lost, as far, as spilled
as if moved from the table too fast—
salt from a lidless box. And the one candle

I molded and set on the mantle had to be lit.
To enjoy the burning, mother said.
Because something holy was happening then,
and all was made to be blown away—burn of cry,
steam of want—expelled like a mouthful of air.

           First published in Black Warrior Review