Between Mud and Stars

My daughters twist their hair in curlers

like my mother and her mother used to do

or slouching ponytails or tousled straight or

abandoned braids, loosening for days

Toss lipgloss and pink polish into pockets

though they chew chipped nails

and rarely shine their lips.


They read long books turning pages, curled

in couch corners, blanket-tucked

Bake bread, punch puffed dough

twist pretzels sprinkled with salt.

Wash dishes or laundry, mop the kitchen floor

build houses of cardboard

dress dolls for tea, tiny cups, tiny plates of almonds.


They draw lifelike portraits with charcoal pencils

Ride bikes without helmets, without shoes

collect rocks or feathers or filmy snakeskins

Gather tangled raspberries, blackberries, mulberries with

thorn-sketched arms and berrystained mouths.

They acquire poison ivy spots and tidy stitches

embroidered on bloodtraced foreheads

Sing with voices heartsweet or sonorous deep

strum self-taught guitars and ukuleles

Roll laughing down grassy hills, dig holes

bury bones, small skeletons

antlers and raccoon skulls, scattered dirt.


They make movies and fairytale plays

Pluck wildflowers, yarrow, queen anne’s lace

black-eyed susan, milkweed, tough chicory stems

Climb trees and smell of pinesap

laze with bees in shaded peach blossom and lilac.


They swim with sunburnt skin

slipping under the glisten stretch in sunshine with wild wind hair

Dance to mosquito hum and cricket chirp

and throaty frogs and creeping ticks

Run in wide fields of moonlight chasing

fireflies like breathing stars.


My daughters recite ancestral prayers

like my mother and her mother used to do

with hands folded like envelopes bearing love letters

They kiss my cheek with unglossed lips

Flap lashes like soporific batwings lidding their shining dream eyes.


Naomi Ernest
Art & Photography

2 Responses

  • Beautifully written with such love and joy, reminding me what it must have been for my mom watching her daughters grow up… Thank you so much for sharing.💙

  • A wonderful piece of poetry and a beautiful gift for your girls – it made me smile, remembering my daughters as young kids doing these kind of things also 🙂


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