Three Poems by Kelli Hansel Haywood
Decisions After the Birth of Mae Ellen, 1934
Mamaw wrote to me once about her
memory of you:
“My Mamaw Arizona took in washings
and did ironings for people to sustain them.
I can remember her standing on that good
leg with her bad leg in a chair and ironing
all day to make a living.”
In the quiet and repetitive motion
you felt the story you ran to escape
closing into the silence.
It becomes too much.
I retreat to my room to fold laundry.
The warmth, smell,
organizing into piles for drawers or hangers,
It is quiet.
It is doing.
Productivity when my mind is too tired
to hear my daughters play without the
sound cushion of a wall.
Too tired to plan, write, read, or dream.
The folding in of a day.
A Relief, Really
I’m ok that you didn’t remember
You were preoccupied
That I reminded you
Twenty-two years had passed
The days into nights into
of passing through morning meals
Struggles to remember
what is necessary to discuss
in the same room.
It’s where we’ve landed
Right now, we’re both planted
rain or sun
dew soaked grass
The only acknowledgment
to it being odd is
It’s ok that we’re
fine with it.
A relief, really.
Editor's note: "A Relief, Really" was first published during the 2021 Lexington Poetry Month.