cottonwoods in june

only once did my mother tell me
in a shadow of voice far from now
of the angry dirt farm that was
her crumbling childhood home

she recalled her favorite doll
the only one they could afford
two sticks she had bound together
a bit of cloth wrapped around

the cotton fields where she labored
becoming a woman of patience
who knew the pain of infant flesh
torn by an infinite sea of thorns

i am old now and weighing time
and while i speak to her now and then
i cannot say if she hears me
or if her own voice can reach me still

in june the cottonwoods shed
shredding the sky with pale tufts
of a childhood that had never
known the chance to laugh at clouds

Dora Mae Stewart in 1942

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