You thought you heard a whale, a wail,
a wailing. Assumed a woman’s voice, a stance
to view the mess.
—Alise Alouisi, “I Am Not Your Mother”
The poems in the MOTHERS RESPOND folio refuse to look away from landscapes ravaged by war, climate change, racial injustice, reproductive injustice, even though, as DeMisty D. Bellinger tells us in “On Raising Black Kids,” “My heart aches. This is/fucking hard.”
These are poems of witness and testimony. They defy life “in Confederatelandia,” as Lesley Wheeler tells us, with their insistence on love, family, and community. “Listen, “ Marisol Cortez demands, “we’re not leaving.” The poems are rooted deep in the landscapes they inhabit. In her poem, “A woman walks into the woods—seeking strength,” Angelique Zobitz writes,
with deep roots, providing canopy for seeds
that will grow in her protective shade.
These poems also become aspirations, as in Jennifer Givhan’s “Apples Fall,” where the speaker asks
Let the stars
in the seeded center take root. How’s this
for a poem, I ask my girl. How’s this.
We hope that the poems in this folio will lay bare the power of telling the truth about what we as mothers see and experience. The poems speak to each other and to us, who need to hear these stories, these prayers.
Jennifer Martelli and Cindy Veach
Christy Lee Barnes
DeMisty D. Bellinger
Jessie Zechnowitz Lim
Amy Ralston Seife