Peggy Douglas has a Ph.D. in Environmental Economics, and has been a poet, college professor and community activist in Appalachia for twenty-nine years. Her poems have appeared in numerous literary journals and anthologies, and her chapbook, Twisted Roots, was published by Finishing Line Press in 2011. Peggy lives in Chattanooga, Tennessee, near her children and grandchildren, and is currently working on a poetic play about the life of Emma Bell Miles.
Forsaking Mama’s Garden
Oh, how we could dream life, Mama, as if we were celebrities
in Life Magazine, like the one with Doris Day on the cover,
May of Fifty-nine. You held her face next to mine, poofed
my hair and patted my emerging bosom. Rocking back,
you raised one brow to study my potential. Child, it’s a struggle
to grow up Southern and sexy, you’d say as if my garden was set
with a field full of weeds to hoe.
But I ended up in Berkeley, foggy nights with a lover who threw
bricks at cop cars and walked midnight streets on psychedelics,
measuring time by fading colors. We cooked dinner each morning—
pinto beans in a pot on a two burner stove, never talking of marriage
and children. Sometimes, I peeled the curtain from the steamy kitchen
window as the sun rose and pictured Doris weeding goosegrass
by your side.
So I called you from that pay phone on Sundays, across three time zones
to breathe our thick air, all the while, rifling for that root of sameness
burrowed into our bones. Me in a glass booth, sipping Boones Farm
from a jelly glass on Milvia Street, one hand pressed against the free ear
to block out traffic while you told me all about Sissy’s debutant dress
and left your thistles to grow.
Read Peggy Douglas's previous work in Still
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