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A Quarterly Journal
Jeffrey Woodward, Founder & General Editor
Volume 6, Number 1, March 2012

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Margaret Dornaus
Ozark, Arkansas, USA


Milestones

lace-curtain Irish . . .
hand sewing the hem
with a blind stitch
I measure the distance
between mother's last breaths

Just north of St. Louis the August heat is oppressive, the rich riverbed giving way to a monotonous play of farmland stalked by endless rows of ripening grain. Somewhere along the road a simple metal marker fractures the flattened landscape. I squint to read the words on the small, sun-burnished sign: MOTHER JONES' HOME.

who is this spirit
who won't stay down?
rising phoenix—
the dust and the ashes
no longer earthbound

I had assumed that "Mother" Mary Jones—Irish immigrant and union organizer—had been bred with coal dust in her bones. Teacher. Dressmaker. Fire stole her livelihood. Yellow fever, her family. Reinventing herself one last time, Mary became the voice of striking miners, their wives, their children. Some dubbed her the "grandmother of all agitators"; others called her "the miners' angel."

copper and gold
flocking the evergreens
at day's end . . .
an unexpected sign
shining light on the road

Alone in my borrowed car, I pledge to follow the marker on my return. But I never do. I look for but can't find it.

north by northeast
a splinter of geese flies
far from this heat
I too ponder
how I'll leave this earth

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