Bonnie Naradzay

In her peignoir with Belgian lace, ragged

and torn at the hem, Mother sits alone

in our back yard. Hair caught in her woven

rattan chair, she stares at her crescent-shaped

garden and points where I must shovel

to plant her favorite roses: Etoile

de Holland, dark, crimson and thorny;

Cecil Bruner, pale yellow, fragrant,

thickly petaled. Mother sips Darjeeling,

wipes tea leaves and sweat from her lips,

bites melba toast. She rarely moves or speaks.

I change into my swimsuit, walk barefoot

in the heat over the tar-bubbling road

to the public pool, buy candy for lunch.

In the sun, I lie down on cement,

skin drying and cracked. My mildewed

braids, seldom washed or combed, begin

to smell. Walking to the deep end,

I dive in, hold my breath, and explode

just under the surface, as if I could break

through, darkly fragrant, with a gasp for air.

Bonnie Naradzay in the 1960’s was a graduate student at Harvard University and audited a class taught by Robert Lowell – “The King James Bible as English Literature.” In January 2008 she earned her MFA in poetry from Stonecoast (affiliated with the University of Southern Maine). Her print publications are “Elegy with a Song in it” (JAMA, the Feb. 7, 2007 issue), “Reading Elizabeth Bishop: House on the Patuxent River” (SLAB, the summer 2007 issue), “The Year of Eating Oatmeal” (Summer 2007 issue of Heartland Review, first place, 2007 Joy Bale Boone Poetry Prize), and “Papaya Morning” (Delmarva Review, 2009). Honorable Mention, Atlanta Review, 2008. Finalist, Washington Writers Poetry Manuscript Competition, 2008. Her poems have also appeared in numerous online publications: Innisfree, Potomac, Convergence, Salt River Review, Beltway Quarterly, and New Verse News.

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