Mary Cassatt painted mothers
as monuments,
well nourished, flourishing
with their babies, with themselves,
at the bath, in the nursery, kitchen,
at the opera, on the lawns.

They wore white, carried fans
or parasols, the more white the better,
white touched with blue paint
to make the white whiter.

Mary lets us come very close
to her women’s worlds.
We want to touch arms, red-blond hair,
take the baby onto our laps, take tea.
We want to watch the opera next to her
and say, thank you, Mary, you know
and show the world full women.

You said you wanted to be someone, not something.
Even more than yourself, you gave us
back to ourselves as well.

Donna L. Emerson lives in Petaluma, California with her husband and daughter. She has just retired from teaching at Santa Rosa Jr. College and her clinical social work practice. Her recent publications include Calyx, Denver Quarterly, Sanskrit, The Place That Inhabits Us, Poems of the Bay Area Watershed, The Paterson Literary Review, the New Ohio Review. She has been nominated for a Pushcart, “Best of the Net” and received an Allen Ginsberg poetry award. Her four chapbooks include This Water, 2007, Body Rhymes, 2009, Wild Mercy,2011, and Following Hay, 2013. Her first full-length book of poetry, The Place of Our Meeting, comes out this year.

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