Madison poet Norma Gay Prewett visited us in Cambridge to record several pieces of poetry and prose centered around her mother, who died four years ago on Prewett’s 56th birthday. Cottonbound: An Audio Chapbook is now online at Cambridge Book Review. Here’s a sample:
Bill of Lading / Norma Gay Prewett
A chewed-looking Styrofoam snowman head,
Black felt pipe, googly stuffed-animal eyes
(also the bag of eyes, I discover later)
A sweater that smells disagreeable unless it is your mom’s
An ocher clipping with a penned-in arrow
To my head—”My Daughter” as if I don’t
Recall sitting in turpentine at Methodist art camp
Some recipes she never used, but carefully copied longhand
Swedish meatballs, ham loaf, Hanukkah cookies
Did she know we were not Jewish? Did she know
The people in the multi-picture frame, never filled with us,
So beautiful and fresh, having action-packed fun?
She never saw the sea, but pictures of the sea—
Did she long for the thrum of waves on pebble?
Some hanks of yarn, maybe free, from the spinners where
Her working life began at fifty, where she nearly
Fell in love with her foreman, but for her bad heart
Her bad heart, to my brother, who died with it in his chest.
Her Ozark drawl, her temper, her madwalk to my sis-
ter; her terror of twisters to all, her scrawl she left
backwards, to her ma. After all, most say I got
Her hazel eyes, her love of fun, her Irish hair, and the low
Thyroid that left her brows and mine scant
She left her death-day as my birthday, to me, alone.