Celebrating National Poetry Month, which ended yesterday, the Delmarva Review joins with the Spy and poets from across the land to present outstanding poems from the review weekly, during April, with the poet’s notes for Spy’s discerning readers.
Author’s Note: There are three voices in the poem. First, the child who needs her mother’s tenderness. She imagines her mother’s singing voice must be from another time when she was happier. Then, the mother, who on rare occasions makes her voice an instrument. Then, the adult daughter recognizing her mother’s depression, reaching for a better understanding.
My Mother’s Voice
By Christine Higgins
Oh, Mr. Moon, Moon,
Pretty silvery moon,
hiding behind that tree.
I don’t know if she sang it once
and I remember it well, or
if the child I was
begged her to sing it again and again.
It was the soprano voice
I only heard in church, never
as she cleaned house or
cooked dinner or folded laundry.
Oh, bright and silvery moon, hiding
behind that tree. My life’s in danger
And I’m on the run, there’s a man out
there with a Gatling gun.
The danger was depression
that wouldn’t quit, inherited
from her drunk father,
though probably not his alone to give.
I see her profile in the darkness
dependent on the full moon’s electric light.
She’s singing, so no threats to beat me
with a brush. No blood rushing
to my forearm where she would
pinch me with her thumb, desperate
for some peace. My father driving,
always driving, for she was too scared
to navigate alone.
Her voice silvery like the song,
notes strung like a pearl necklace.
White against black, the soprano
voice piercing the dark.
Christine Higgins is the recipient of two Maryland State Arts Council Awards for both poetry and non-fiction. She is the author of the full-length collection, Hallow (Cherry Grove, 2020). Her latest chapbook, Hello Darling, was the second-place winner in the 2019 Poetry Box competition. Her work has also appeared in Pequod, America, Windhover, Nagautuck River Review, and PMS (poemmemoirstory). Higgins is a McDowell Colony Fellow and a graduate of The Johns Hopkins University Writing Seminars. Website: www.christinehigginswriter.com.
Delmarva Review publishes the best of poetry, creative nonfiction, and short fiction selected from thousands of submissions annually from authors in the region, across the United States, and beyond. The independent literary journal is a 501(c)(3) nonprofit supported by individual contributions and a grant from the Talbot County Arts Council with funds from the Maryland State Arts Council. Print and digital editions are available at Amazon and other major online bookstores. Website: DelmarvaReview.org.