Poetry Explorer- Classic Contemporary Poetry, THE FLOATING MORMON, by KAREN SWENSON

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THE FLOATING MORMON, by             Poet's Biography
First Line: That summer she hadn't struggled
Last Line: Like parents' front-seat voices.
Subject(s): Alienation (social Psychology); Mormons; Women; Estrangement; Outcasts

That summer she hadn't struggled
to support herself.
The salt had done it for her
when she was thirteen
on the Great Salt Lake, afloat
beneath her parents' wind-borne cries.

Behind white cloud-doors,
she saw life as a sort of railway flat
through which she'd pass from daughter,
to wife, to mother,
each defined,
a furnished room in which she could devise

the person to fit that place.
Now, almost thirty, divorced,
and shut out from her faith,
she stuffs her daughter's lunch
with Hershey bars -
bribes for acceptance and ham sandwiches.

Her furniture giving no identity,
she weeps at comments on her graduate papers -
"Banal, your thinking's commonplace" -
asks, "How should I think?"
as if thoughts were dresses.

The white garage doors close
on her last resort -
to be a child curled on the back seat,
eyes shut,
floating on a long night journey,
the motor murmuring
like parents' front-seat voices.

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