Laura Madeline Wiseman
This is a lady of death, but maybe also a lady of life. Stone goddess, fertility idol, she squats among the bowls on the mantel of a Spanish chest, circa 1616, black walnut, the prized hardwood even then. Her body is stout, her eyes slits, her elbows offer holes to insert thin stalks of corn, wheat, willow. He says with folded hands, One fellow asked to touch her. They were trying to get pregnant. I don’t ask to touch her. You don’t ask to touch her. None of us ask, though three of us touch her. We stand at the back of the reading room listening, trying not to touch the wedding drum, the peyote wand, the pueblo pottery in pieces, try not to squash the bright woven rug with the disabled woman and the spirit path of escape. He says, I’ve seen great ghost dogs, heard booming voices here. You are not interested in voices, in ghost dogs, in abductions or cattle mutilation, in giving birth soon, in cupping bowls that make others cry. You want to find the death lady in this house. Every house worships one. In some houses they pray for her to come, in others for her to go.
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. lauramadelinewiseman.com