If a Mother Braids a Waterfall

By Dayna Patterson

in a country where no one speaks
her language     if She’s a queen
few bow to, few supplicate     if She’s a book

no one reads, verses
rich as incantation     if Mother weaves a forest
floor from tree roots in a swath of clear

cut     if She untangles rivers into tributary
threads, the beds long since dry
if She’s a gold rush with no prospectors     if

She’s a queen bee with no drones, honeycomb
without attendants     if in the morning, Mother conducts
a chorus of larks     if at night, a throng of nightingales

if Her children sleep through the song     if She holds a rope
through an oubliette’s trapdoor, calls
down to us, but we focus on the guard

who pushes grub through the bean slot
once a day, his thrilling fingertips, his footstep echoing
as he walks away     if we look up at last     if we relearn Mother

Tongue through hard listening     if She’s an awaiting
-rain arroyo, a golden seam for our broken
pottery, a worship-worthy starscape

About Dayna Patterson

Dayna Patterson is the editor of Psaltery & Lyre. She received the Dialogue Award for Poetic Excellence for her poem “Eloher,” which won first place in the “A Mother Here” Art & Poetry Contest. Her chapbooks, Loose Threads and Mothering, are available from Flutter Press. She lives in Bellingham, Washington with her husband, Charles, and their two daughters.

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