Books » Chapter and Verse

A Description of My Mother

By Valerie Bacharach

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Grit, a word seldom spoken
anymore. Like its cousins
pluck, fortitude, mettle.
Old-fashioned words, once
the description of flinty
women who left the soft
rounded East for desolation,
isolation, dust, hail, tornadoes.
A house of sod where puny
plants grew yellowed leaves
and stunted fruit.
Where grit, true grit, lived
under fingernails, cracked
skin, grooved lines
on still-young faces.

Grit is my mother
who paints eyelashes
with mascara, thinning
lips with brilliant red,
hangs gold chains
on a crepey neck.

Grit is my mother
who looks into her own
eyes, peers at her brain,
scarred and razed, refusing
to allow the new a handhold.

Grit is my mother
who smiles menacingly
at her own face, mutters
a "fuck you" to this unfair
life, repeats her stories
again and again and again.

— Valerie Bacharach

Valerie Bacharach lives in Point Breeze. She has a taken part in several Madwomen Poetry Workshops with Jan Beatty, Ellen McGrath Smith and Nancy Krygowski. She has also attended poetry workshops facilitated by Sheila Kelly and Laurie McMillan. For the past year she has volunteered with POWER-Recovery, a non-profit drug-and-alcohol organization providing treatment to women in the Pittsburgh area. She meets once a week with the women at the halfway house and conducts poetry workshops with them. Valerie has had two poems published in the latest issue of Voices in the Attic. She has also had two poems published by the online Jewish Literary Journal. Many writers featured in Chapter & Verse are guests of Prosody, produced by Jan Beatty and Ellen Wadey. Prosody airs every Saturday morning on 90.5 FM.

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