Poetry, Essays, and Reflections
MARE LEONARD: Poet & Educator
Mare (a.k.a. Mary) Leonard's latest chapbook, The Dark Inside My Hooded Coat (Finishing Line Press, 2018), artfully integrates memoir and vivid descriptions of her family and ancestors in poems that take us into vital American origins of people, historic neighborhoods, daily work and simple joys. The poem shared below is one of 18 from this heartfelt collection of poetry.
© Mary Leonard
Mom said she cried and cried the day her baby brother died
The day he died she felt cold as stone
The day he died the stove in their railroad flat didn't light
In Hell's Kitchen gangs called her Guinea Girl
Mom didn't yell Mick, couldn't say that
Mom said she'd go to hell if she didn't pray
She said Nonna wore garlic to keep the devil away
Mom said Nonna made her stir and stir the thin soup
She said the gangs on 48th screamed go to hell!
Mom threw hot potatoes at their heads
She heard them yell Dago Girl you smell
Mom said she wore the same smock every day
She washed under her arms at the kitchen sink
She rubbed her skin raw with old lemon skins
Mom kissed Nonni to death when he gave her fresh rolls
She felt warm beside Nonni delivering ice
She danced and clapped the day he gave her a china doll
She said the doll cracked to pieces when she dropped it on the tiles
She moved the china scraps around to play pretend
Mom forgot the cold, she didn't cry, she saw daisies on a hillside
Mare C. Leonard is a poet, humorist, teacher and journalist. Her poems, essays, short fiction, and mixed genre pieces have been published in numerous journals, including Hubbub, The Chronogram and Blotterature. She is also the author of five chapbooks. Mary was a finalist in the Hill-Stead Museum's Poetry Contest, and she won first prize in the Lucy Cady Lamphier Contest.
Mary has been a dedicated teacher for decades and is known to leave an indelible impression on her students. She has taught at every level, from public high school to Trinity College in Hartford, CT. Since 1988, she has been an associate of the Institute for Writing and Thinking at Bard College, where she taught incoming freshmen in the Language and Thinking program from 1990 through 1998. For years, she has taught a summer program for students in grades 10 through 12 at Bard College at Simon's Rock. The Young Writers Workshop is now part of the National Writing and Thinking Network, the largest consortium of summer writing programs in the country.
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