Linda Parsons Marion


Bless you, whose mother staggered fore 
and aft on the deck of her mind’s wrecked

ship, who could not see you diminished 
on the island, hear your sunken cry.

The leaving, the lashing, the heedless rain,
bless the sea hammered to a bell. You,

whose mother berated the Shasta daisies 
beside the back door, who wanted them cut

clean to the ground, who hated them 
that day, but the day you cut them down,

she loved the glad suns’ greeting by the door. 
Bless the neat pile, the first switch she found,

the backs of your legs crossed crimson. 
Bless their uprooting, the hedge that grows

up between you, the scythe you take from 
the shed to slice through. Bless your sweat

for work never finished, thorns you dig out 
with a needle. Even the mothers who know

not, who blame the child for overcooked 
spaghetti and scorched pots, whose own hearts

burn too long unsheltered, scatter blessings 
fine as seed in April soil. And the vast unknowing,

the tried and failed, those tied to the mast 
to plow the nor’easter, bless the crowned wave,

the prow torn to bits on the unyielding shore.  


Linda Parsons Marion is an editor at the University of Tennessee and the author of three poetry collections, most recently, Bound. She served as poetry editor of Now & Then magazine for many years and has received literary fellowships from the Tennessee Arts Commission, as well as the Associated Writing Programs’ Intro Award and the 2012 George Scarbrough Award in Poetry, among others. Marion’s work has appeared widely in journals such as The Georgia Review, Iowa Review, Poet Lore, Nimrod, and Shenandoah and in numerous anthologies, including Listen Here: Women Writing in Appalachia, and The Southern Poetry Anthology, Volume III: Contemporary Appalachia. In 2011, she was inducted in the East Tennessee Writers Hall of Fame, and recently a poem was featured on Ted Kooser’s American Life in Poetry. She lives in Knoxville with her husband, poet Jeff Daniel Marion.  


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