'Apple' by Emmanuela Copal de León
Apple, Emmanuela Copal de León, 1999.



Word Power
by Karen Swenson


First doll, I rocked her blue-eyed blink in my lap --
eyelashes blunt as toothbrushes, pink pout of mouth.
"Name her," Mother and her friend commanded.
I fanned through two and a half
years of words to find the one to blazon
my knowledge of Eve's apple core of motherhood,
to find the best word my mother'd taught me.
"Dirty," I announced.
The two recoiled, cajoled and pled a change.
Despairing, they suggested some babies had two names;
but I'd been given one and so I gave.
On trains, in butcher shops, in hotel lobbies
looking up at benign, pink, stooping
powder-scented faces and their queries,
anticipating her embarrassed smile and their recoil,
I proclaimed, "Dirty."







Text © 1995, 1999 by Karen Swenson
"Word Power" first appeared in Many Mountains Moving, Volume 1, Number 2. The work appears here by permission of the author.

Original Graphic Image, "Apple" © 1999 by Emmanuela Copal de León

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