"What's the world for you if you can't make it up the way you want."

-Jazz, Toni Morrison

Manna for Mama

Manna for Mama

Mama gulped her milk and coffee after burning up the toast—
she smelled like apple oatmeal that had moated round the bowl.
She ran a lake of dish soap over plates and days-old saucepans,
and colored up the kitchen with Gerber daisies from the store.

She slipped through weary forests, laundry towering, dishes sinking,
swelled cartoons to chatty sing-song, to get from shower to the couch—
where she laid herself right down again, for the napping length of hours.

A maze had trapped the princess—a scaly dragon blocked the gate—
saltines made the step-bridge, square by square across the lair,
but someone ate the crackers, there was no way to the tower—

What else could possibly wake her, if not the wrecking ball?
And she did a little pop-up when the blocks came crashing down—
but seeing no big problem, gave back into dreary sleep.

So I would build a fortress, make it strong for momma and me, to keep
her from the dragon that would shut the bridge to the day,
and drag her down that dungeon, and keep her from our play.

I set up lots of pillows, I topped them with our sheets,
then I plucked a piece of popcorn hidden down inside the seat,
and put it next to mama’s lips, like a piece of soft salt manna,
so when the TV finally woke her up, she’d have something to eat.

Bree Devones Hsieh lives in the Los Angeles area and work in community transformation. Hsieh’s poems have previously been published in Sojourners Magazine and Dappled Things Journal, and are forthcoming late February in The Piltdown Review. ‘

Cover photo by Gregory Pappas on Unsplash