The 2021 Slapering Hol Press Chapbook Contest Winner’s collection is MOTHER KINGDOM by Andrea Deeken.
“Mother Kingdom..reflects the role of “mother”, not simply as the person who gives birth, but as the deep observer and nurturer of those around her, recording how people both attract and repel but ultimately are an integral part of each other’s lives. The book creates a fine balance of memoir, diary, confessional poem, and sharp observation.” —Laurence Carr, Lightwood
Andrea was born in rural Missouri and has lived in the Pacific Northwest for most of her adult life. She holds a BA from Drake University and an MS in Writing and Publishing from Portland State University. Her writing has appeared in The Cereal Box Review, Periphery, The Bear Deluxe, Spoon River Poetry Review, and The Blue Mountain Review. Awards include Richard Hugo House Writing Contest First Place; Arts and Letters Creative Nonfiction Finalist; and Honorable Mention in the 2019 Spoon River Poetry Review Editors’ Prize Contest, among others. Most recently, she received second place in the 2020 Blue Mountain Review LGBTQ Chapbook Contest. A former book editor, she has worked in libraries for more than ten years. She lives in Portland, Oregon with her wife and daughter.
Was it when I followed my father to the fields
his back hunched, searching for arrowheads
my feet sinking in the newly turned earth?
Or was it seeing my mother from the doorway
her back waning crescent in the dark?
Words came easily to me then
alone with paper, my mind a sweet shadow,
time a soft blanket around my shoulders.
But coming out my mouth they choked
and stumbled, my face the crushed
color of cherries stuck
to the bottom of a boot.
When I told my father I was gay he was chopping
radishes, their red skins half moons
on the cutting board, little gleams of white
a promise worth keeping.
His careful hands slicing, their rough wintered edges
that held so many things: dogs, babies,
stones the color of starlight,
my wild heart, beating
the knife’s calm rhythm, What can I fix you to eat?
My mother was not so easy,
her face pinched pale in the thick dark
of her bedroom, thin covers a moat
of righteous limbs and I the only sinner.
Even now, all these years later, my heart closes
when I hear her voice.
Today it’s cold but the crocuses are coming up,
ochre pollen petals small as thimbles.
Soon the geese will head back north,
their black wings cutting through soundless cloud.
— Andrea Deeken, originally published by Spoon River Poetry Review (2019)