Poetry Explorer- Classic Contemporary Poetry, MY MOTHER, 1930, by KAREN SWENSON

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MY MOTHER, 1930, by             Poet's Biography
First Line: Don't worry, mom,' she wrote from tunis to fargo
Last Line: Her secret refuge of remembrance.
Subject(s): Marriage; Mothers & Daughters; Travel; Weddings; Husbands; Wives; Journeys; Trips

"Don't worry, Mom," she wrote from Tunis to Fargo
in 1930, "the main street is twenty
yards from me. I'm in full view." Down the hill's
one side a chapel nested in a flutter
of silver olive leaves, while down the other
the town surrounded eggshells of mosque domes.

Alone in her adventure's glory she
sat, hummed Die Fledermaus in the sun. Yes,
there was a man, Luigi, an Italian
who called her "golden head," but he wasn't why
she spent four months alone in the hotel
that catered to a flotsam of French counts.

It was to see at Ramadan the park
before the Kasbah glow with "mellow moons"
of lanterns under which men drifted in
white robes, or to sneak in among Chanel
suits waving gilt-edged invitations and
admire the gold braid at the Bey's reception.

Four months' parentheses of freedom, then
the shadows of the prison house of marriage
closed to the limits of the longitude of
a husband, who preferred to sleep in his
own sheets, the latitude of a daughter, who
returned from Isfahan with slides of domes

their tiles, blue as delphiniums, she couldn't
see through pale webs of cataracts. She rarely
spoke of those months I found among her letters,
blithe with her humming voice warmed by the sun -
still happy, twenty years beyond death, in
her secret refuge of remembrance.

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