Mother Teresa


Editor’s Note: The suffragettes. Their names come back to us in waves, like a way distant echoes. Even the name Betty Freidan, the woman who presided over the birth of modern feminism, resonates like some fire-breathing dragon of yore, which she was, in a way. Freidan’s compatriots and love children, Gremaine Greer, Gloria Steinem,Wendy Shalit, Katie Roiphe, Naomi Wolf, and Susan Faludi, all paved the way, but still, women continue to struggle to find the ideal mix between feminism and femininity. Except perhaps in Shangri-Las like Telluride, where no one has a problem with women having it both ways. In Telluride, we paint our nails and break them too. Here women run companies – and mountain trails. The following poems serve as tributes to the wonderful women here in town – and everywhere, as Telluride Inside… and Out honors International Women’s Day, with love from two phenomenal lady poets – and one guy (who loves quiches, weeps at “Bambi,” and is unafraid to woman-up from time to time), three of our regular contributors: WordWoman Rosemerry Trommer, Kierstin Bridger, and feelasopher, David Feela. Their poetry books are available at Between the Covers Bookstore.

Phenomenal (Word) Woman

Phenomenal (Word) Woman

Because You Asked for a Light,* By Rosemerry Trommer

A woman is not a light
switched off and on.

She is an unruly photon
with her own sense of arrival.

She settles in the west
when she feels so inclined.

She is incoherent moonlight,
riddled waves on a shoreless sea.

She shimmers as she swims,
her dark surfaces glassine.

She may try to cloak herself in copper,
might seal her words in wet cement,

may damn that relentless shine.
No use.

Rather than forcing herself
into sullen walls she attracts an opening

and escapes, her orange tongue
licking the wind.

*”Holding Three Things at Once”


white cstleWhite Castle, by Kierstin Bridger

Inside her hour, inside just one of her hours
are feet that go numb, at night, after
the prickly pain lets loose what seem like
copperheads piercing and winding up her calf.
Inside her hour she barks at the dishwasher,
counts the coins, pours the coffee.
She misses the girl who wears the birthday locket,
its emerald colored gem, a crown jewel purchased
with dime and nickel tips.

Inside her hours a hot grill steams
not a snake pit of onions,
but re-hydrated specks
saving tears while the savory melts.
The scent feels like a legacy
pressed in her uniform,
the greasiness of the hours,
turning the white into sepia-gold.

Her daughter nibbles tiny square burgers
fit for a queen, small white buns
perched on the chrome counter stool waiting
for hours, for her mama’s shift to end.

She gets that girl on vacations and summers,
couldn’t afford both children in the city,
the baby too young to leave behind
and her big girl who needed country air,
her father’s love, and her–
when she could spare the hours.
She watches her daughter, a squirrel
of a girl hunched over the nut of it, reminding her
of the crook-back cherry tree back home,
and the Royal Oak, the hours near dusk,
pebbles on the hard pack road.

All the white enamel and stainless steel of her days
can’t erase the longing inside the hours.
She keeps her teeth clenched and her gaze set to iron
wearing shoes her roommate lends, a size too small,
from one of three girls who work opposite shifts,
sharing a shot gun house. Soon enough,
barefoot again among her ladies in waiting.


Mother Teresa

Mother Teresa

Mother Theresa über Alles, by David Feela

Mother Teresa, asked when it was she
    started her work for abandoned children,
    replied, “On the day I discovered I had
    a Hitler inside me.”

After the trains had been stopped in their tracks
and the barbed wire flattened by Allied tanks,
after they tallied the rumor of horror
with shoes and bones, she left Poland
disguised as a peasant, gave up
her relationship with Goering and began
dreaming of the Pope, humming Gregorian
chants while she walked all the way to India,
her heart an enigma not even she understood.
In Calcutta she smiled
to see such squalor, for though Hitler was dead,
his designs were perennial.
As she lifted the fleshy faggots
of rags from the street and carried them
to her makeshift hospital, a perverse mathematics
filled her head with calculations
for an army of uniformed sisters
whose habit demanded nothing less
than conquering the miserable world.

*from “The Home Atlas”


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