Issue No. 8, Spring 2014

Befriending Death
Laura Madeline Wiseman

The lady of death says she’ll be my mother. I don’t want a mother in my thirties, in the mountains, in the rooms smelling of sage. My mother is dead, or she’s dying, I say as I walk Birch Street lined by cottonwood trees, golden as fall. The death lady walks beside me. Her hips pop, her expression kept in shadows. She says, I will give you a pee cat with three legs, $53,000, and a man who loves by command if you’ll let me be your mother. The magpies gather in the dead trees. The sweet stink of skunk lifts in the setting sun as I walk around the potholes. I don’t want three-fourths of a cat, money that should be saved, or some man in my bed. I don’t want a mother of death. I had one. Bloated, married to a king, she night walks the river moaning and dragging my dead sisters. I grab the death lady’s cold hand, feeling her bones grind. I say, I don’t want a mother. I want a friend, death’s bright angel, you. 

Laura Madeline Wiseman has a doctorate from the University of Nebraska-Lincoln where she teaches English and creative writing. She is the author of seven collections of poetry, including Sprung (San Francisco Bay Press, 2012) and Unclose the Door (Gold Quoin Press, 2012). She is also the editor of Women Write Resistance: Poets Resist Gender Violence (Hyacinth Girl Press, 2013). Her writings have appeared in Prairie Schooner, Margie, Rose Red Review, Arts & Letters, Poet Lore, and Feminist Studies. She has received awards from the Academy of American Poets and Mari Sandoz/Prairie Schooner, and grants from the Center for the Great Plains Studies and the Wurlitzer Foundation.