Renee Emerson


I would have liked to see you ferociously
mad at your sisters. To tell you not to bite,
signing their arms with a curved line of pain.
Not to pull hair, their blond strands between
your fingers a lined page where you write
your barbaric will. To tell you to quiet down.

I would have liked to chase you naked
around the house, to let you eat ice cream
and waffles, crisp fried chicken, homemade
pie from apples we picked ourselves in open
orchards, from limbs we strained to reach
like we strain now to reach back to you.

To take you out—in the desolate church sanctuary,
hymn song and mumble of liturgy muffled
through double doors, and on the walking trails
around our home, strapped to my chest like a bird
in the pocket or like a song I wrote in the night
to you when you were awake, restless,
and seemed that you would never still.



Renee Emerson is a homeschooling mom of seven, and the author of Church Ladies (forthcoming from Fernwood Press, 2022), Threshing Floor (Jacar Press, 2016), and Keeping Me Still (Winter Goose Publishing, 2014). Her poetry has been published in Cumberland River Review, Windhover, and Poetry South. She adjunct teaches online for Indiana Wesleyan University, and blogs about poetry, grief, and motherhood at www.reneeemerson.com.