Living in the Woods with Mom, 1970 by Nicole Michaels

You are wearing an un-tucked white blouse over slacks and drinking jug wine.
Something on the stove not a curry – those came later – smells divine

and you are letting me help cut the root vegetables, steadying my hand
on the mascara-black handle of a knife while I stand on a stool.

The stool is painted to look like a mushroom, and I am barefooted
and on tip toe like a visitor from a damp kingdom of ferns and morels.

The day before, you were ironing in front of TV with a poor signal,
first the body, then the sleeves, careful not to singe the buttons.

Your dark hair was pulled up, pin curls made with spit and bobby pins
to hide your ears as if they were pointed and would give you away.

Your eyes were the color of moss in indirect light
and the thick charcoal of the times lined your lids, turning up at the corners.

Not everyone’s mom looked so mysterious doing the housework.
Not every house had a feral daughter, pockets filled with shade flowers

and gem stones. My scabbard caught in the door as I came in to wash up,
my leather armor smelling of fresh battle with dragons.

Only a silver pleat of antenna separated us while you picked up another shirt,
and maybe a little mist as you pressed down.



Nicole Michaels is a Marin County, CA native who makes her home in frontier Wyoming. She is a working poet with a degree in English from Stanford University where she studied under the late Diane Middlebrook and chose an emphasis in feminist studies. She spent some time in the American South as a journalist for small papers.



Photograph The Winter House at Forest Lodge by Beverkd.

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