The Queen of My Self


Since May is Mothering Month, I intend to post a diverse array of articles for the rest of the month, about and for mothers.



By Mary Saaracino, CO



On the day I was born you nearly bled to death

perhaps a sign that our lives were marked for strife

but a mother’s womb is a thing of power

a proving ground for life and all its mysteries

you called me first-daughter and I shouldered

that responsibility, sometimes bearing

too many of your sorrows

always bearing mine

our lives are as entwined as our DNA

that mitochondrial ribbon of memory

tethers us to the long sighs of mothers and daughters —

Maria Fiora Petronilla Lazurri

Maria Assunta Rocchiccioli — and other

more ancient daughters, mothers,

grandmothers, great grandmothers –

whose names we do not know

strong women who loved and lost, laughed and cried

dreamed and despaired and lived — always

lived knowing that blood runs deep

and primeval bonds are never severed

whether our days are carefree or fraught with pain

something carries us forward

something that knows mothers are imperfect

and daughters are too

something that knows us each by heart

celebrates the joys and sorrows

blesses us all the way through.



Not mother by birth, but second mother by chance

your fierce spirit a reminder

that a woman strong is a mighty beauty —

though some would not agree

when first you married my father

my twenty-something eyes had seen too much

yet much more lay ahead

at your table I have feasted on roasted chicken

with potatoes, polenta simmering in red sauce,

savory meatballs and homemade fried dough

listening to your stories about your sisters,

heeding your reminder to always cherish mine

there’s something in a woman’s bones that celebrates

the twin sustenance of food and sisterhood,

something that honors the balm that resides

in the love of mothers—biological or not —

that knows life is painful and bearable

knows, too, that only love sustains us

through the long walk home



When first I met you my life lay in shards

at my feet, splinters of mirrored glass reflecting

worry and woe back at my astonished eyes

discontent called my name

you asked me to look closely

wait and listen for my truth, for answers

I never cried in front of you

yet the kindness in your eyes

called my name

steeled my courage

led me home

together we mended

the fragile fragments

fashioned woe into a window

a doorway

a way in & out

of my delicate, willing heart



Voice clenched in terror

I sat before you

too many secrets trapped

in too many memories

my lips afraid to speak

my brain shattered by shock

I wanted to shout, but could not

I wanted to silence years of no-no-no

dive, singing, into the boundless sea of yes-yes-yes

I longed to drown in epiphany, be reborn

a woman whose tongue was ablaze

with voluptuous vowels

loose-limbed consonants

I could not have known

the way out was strewn

with prayers and poems

pictures drawn of fierce, howling mouths

the dark eyes of a young girl staring back at me

her twisted mouth clamped shut

her lonesome hands reaching

for something it would take me years to recognize

when at last the stifling air stirred

I began to cry and sculpted Amazons of clay

fists clenched against injustice, wanting — always wanting —

to laugh, to dance, to say what I needed to say

without censor, without regret, without retaliation

and you, a patient midwife,

witnessed my bloody birth without flinching

breath after precious breath you stood resolute

as I gathered the lost syllables

reclaiming the nouns, verbs, plump sentences

of my mother tongue

the native language of my soul



Mother of mothers dark and divine

your secret keys unlocked ancient doorways

ushering me down dusty roads

peppered with red poppies and parched ruins

Sicily captured me, cradled me in her fragrant arms

coaxed my soul from its too-long slumber

your audacity, your heart, your laughter

spoke of things long forgotten

daring me to speak as well

and to remember




Her name

Her name

Her name


Donna Henes is the author of   The Queen of My Self: Stepping into Sovereignty in Midlife. She is the Midlife Midwife™ offering counseling and upbeat, practical and ceremonial guidance for individual women and groups who want to enjoy the fruits of an enriching, influential, purposeful, passionate, and powerful maturity.



The Queen welcomes questions concerning all issues of interest to women in their mature years. Send your inquiries to



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