Academic journal article The Midwest Quarterly

Crazy Jane Remembers Her Mother

Academic journal article The Midwest Quarterly

Crazy Jane Remembers Her Mother

Article excerpt

   I loved the baby like a little cat's paw.    Her head was fuzzy. I held her to me    and she rested, but she didn't drink.    What was there, except that    little mouth, opening, closing--she    couldn't hold the nipple.    No one was there. I asked God.    I asked the creek to bring me help.    I let it wash me, but she wouldn't take    my breast. She held it like a doll.    Sometimes I long for a breast too.    The moon offers hers,    but I can't reach it with my mouth.    Flowers console me.    They forget everything in winter    and when they return,    they are glad to see me.    I never had a mother, but I was one.    Four times, at least. My fingers    hurt too much to hold the needle.    Put her in a too-big dress when I left her,    turned under the shovel. I was like a tree,    crying. The past is a floor    I scrub over and over.    Her head tore my flesh.    I remember her, Josephina.    Her hair curled, her cheek was soft    as the breast it rested on. 

When I moved to Colorado ten years ago, I found it difficult to write in a new landscape. As gorgeous as it all was--the wide streets, the openness of the sky, the mountains that were constantly changing in color and mood--it didn't feel like home. I was surprised to learn that landscape mattered to my writing, because I'd never particularly thought about it before. What I did to make a place for myself--and writing--in this new western setting was to read as many first-hand accounts as I could of pioneer women in the West, and to learn the names of wildflowers. …

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