a woman peeling apples, with a small child

Pattie McCarthy

straight off the blade she hands

it over her small hand the long peel for divination

the long peel hissing like a boa constrictor         how long
it must take to dress the daughter in all of her

gathers & kirtles & caps

her pinafore pockets full of oyster shells yes
what she can't see     what hurts her eyes          & like a genre painting I'll include
the image of another             painting or         a mirror
or a dog           
                  how Vermeer preferred women working alone

                                        how this also      uses natural light in an otherwise unlit interior
when the old woman peels apples she's surrounded

by circles & keeps         her book in good light             & when
she is young it's a rich   brocade              steady hands

a hairband & a little jut of thought in her jaw                           (see also dutch        quiet   )
Copyright © 2014 by Pattie McCarthy. Used with permission of the author. This poem appeared in Poem-A-Day on February 13, 2014. Browse the Poem-A-Day archive.

Further Reading

Poems About Mothers
Disciplines [If there is prayer, there is a mother kneeling]
by Dawn Lundy Martin
Kaddish, Part I
by Allen Ginsberg
by Carmen Giménez Smith
by Catherine Barnett
by Alicia Suskin Ostriker
Getting Close
by Victoria Redel
by Francisco Aragón
by Tony Hoagland
Mama, Come Back
by Nellie Wong
Measurement Fable
by Rusty Morrison
by James Richardson
by Lola Ridge
by Herman de Coninck
Mother Ann Tells Lucy What Gave Her Joy
by Arra Lynn Ross
Mother o' Mine
by Rudyard Kipling
Mother's Day
by David Young
My Mother on an Evening in Late Summer
by Mark Strand
My Mother Was No White Dove
by Reginald Shepherd
My Mother Would Be a Falconress
by Robert Duncan
My Mother's Funeral
by Ira Sadoff
by William Meredith
Picking Up
by Evelyn Duncan
Poems about Motherhood
by E. Ethelbert Miller
by Hiromi Itō
Rock Me to Sleep
by Elizabeth Akers Allen
She Leaves Me Again, Six Months Later
by Collier Nogues
The Player Queen
by W. B. Yeats
The Routine Things Around the House
by Stephen Dunn
The Visit
by Jason Shinder
They Call This
by C. K. Williams
To My Mother
by Robert Louis Stevenson
To My Mother
by Edgar Allan Poe
To My Mother
by Christina Rossetti
To My Mother Waiting on 10/01/54
by Teresa Carson
Untitled [A house just like his mother's]
by Gregory Orr
Wedding Cake
by Naomi Shihab Nye
With Child
by Genevieve Taggard
[Sonnets are full of love, and this my tome]
by Christina Rossetti