Sharon Waller Knutson
Bio Note: I live in a wildlife habitat near Phoenix, Arizona where I enjoy watching the wildlife and writing poetry about my life. These poems I wrote while recuperating from a fall. My new collection, Kiddos & Mamas Do the Darndest Things is forthcoming from Cyberwit soon. I was most recently published in Lothlorien Poetry Journal.
Margaret and Me
We are our grandmothers standing outside a closed door in the poetry reading hall waiting for our voices to be heard. We hear voices inside and jiggle the knob and pound on the locked door. Her white hair fluffs around her face. One knee swollen like a shitake throbs as she leans on a cane. My shoulders shrink under the sheet of white hair hanging to my waist as my feet flame like fire on the walker. You are discriminating against old ladies and daughters of immigrants, I shout. The door squeaks open and we file in. Tap tap tap, we shuffle to the podium, our words wailing off the walls and hands clapping like the waves that washed the ships up on the shore carrying our ancestors from foreign lands so we can be free to speak our truth.
Naomi and Wynona
Her big henna hair piled high, mama rocks in her chair as the redheaded mother and daughter rock the stage of the Grand Ole Opry. Grandpa tell me about the good ole days, the Judds harmonize as Mama sings along and daddy looking like the Oak Ridge Boys with long white hair and beard reclines in a vinyl La-Z-Boy the same material as Naomi’s red dress. Wearing black like Wynona, I sing off key as they harmonize: You been lookin' for love all around the world. Baby, don't you know that this country girl's still free? Why not me? Why not me? Daddy’s been gone a year and mama lies in the hospital bed in the living room every bone in her back broken from Melanoma, while Naomi in remission from Hepatitis C prances around the stage in red, blue and gold gowns and Wynona dressed in black cured of laryngitis growls, Grandpa, tell me about the good old days, at their televised farewell tour. Mama lies beside daddy in the cemetery while I sit up in bed watching the news a month after my eightieth birthday and two weeks after my fall when Naomi’s daughters announce: We lost our beautiful mother to mental illness as she lies in the morgue. I hobble on my walker, then eat dinner as the camera catches Wynona boarding her bus for the tour without her mother. She would want this, she says. I change the channel to watch Wynona’s sister, a mirror image of her mother tell Dianne Sawyer: Suicide. A firearm was involved.
©2022 Sharon Waller Knutson
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