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The Mail Order Bride Abides

Read by Emilia Phillips

This is the season I learn
foothold, to swing the slender blade

of self into loose soil, gain fragile purchase,
be sapling, be sail. From mismatched fabric

I have sewn these three: son, daughter, daughter.
Now linens roil on the line. I am steeped

in kitchen in crib. Hallway, stairway, the pitch
unforgiving, the loaned treasure of years

scatters into scree. I hear it falling. The children
trespass in the woods of my body, my heart

blisters, weeps. They sing their songs, honeyed
notes, belaying down window-glass steamed

in winter. They take ill. The inmost room
is called ‘the keep.’ This is the season

I learn a wild patience, be anchor
be oak, basin and bed, steady and steady

again. To keep my chambered secret: This
is not all I am. I know how

to fasten myself to headwall,
how to abseil, which means to render

a controlled descent down
a vertical surface, webbed in rope.

Molly Spencer is a poet, an avid reader of poetry and almost anything else, and a mother of three. Her work has appeared or is forthcoming in Literary Mama, CALYX, Thrush Poetry Journal, and elsewhere. A native Michigander and erstwhile Minnesotan, she now lives in the San Francisco Bay Area with her husband and their three children.