Poem of the Week | January 24, 2011

This week we are delighted to feature “Recovery” by Julie L. Moore.  The poem is previously unpublished. Julie L. Moore is the author of Slipping Out of Bloom, published last year by WordTech Editions, and the chapbook, Election Day (Finishing Line Press). She has twice been nominated for the Pushcart Prize and has received the Rosine Offen Memorial Award from the Free Lunch Arts Alliance, the Janet B. McCabe Poetry Prize from Ruminate, and the Judson Jerome Poetry Scholarship from the Antioch Writers’ Workshop. Her poetry has appeared in Alaska Quarterly Review, American Poetry Journal, Atlanta Review, CALYX, The Christian Century, Cimarron Review, The Southern Review, and Valparaiso Poetry Review. Moore lives in Ohio where she directs the writing center at Cedarville University. You can learn more about her work at www.julielmoore.com.

Author’s Note:

During my long and complicated recuperation from open surgery last spring, my neighbors across the street were remodeling their farmhouse, a homestead that’s been in their family for many generations. As I followed doctors’ orders and “moved around,” hobbling along my front porch and sidewalk, I watched the builder working on the house and caught the poem’s insistent “germ.”  I tried resisting it: I thought it was too obvious a metaphor, too easy. (Besides, I thought, surely other women have already written about hysterectomies!) Yet, this neighbor’s brother-in-law, who’s another neighbor of mine  (this is rural, southwest Ohio where farm families live along the same tract of land they own), shared with me the tremendous cost of saving the home, a cost the owners could easily have avoided by simply razing the house and starting fresh. After all, even the fireplace’s brick had ground down to dust. I was that house; we all, at some point, become that house. The poem, like prayer, helped me endure pain and uncertainty as it spilled over into gratitude for those who choose preservation as a way of life, gratitude for such grace.


Walking along my front porch, I rub my swollen

belly like I did, years ago, when I was expecting


a miracle. I am empty now, gutted

like the old farmhouse across the street,


every room pared down to the frame’s

bare bones. Even the floors have been removed.


All I want is a day when pain

breaks. I’ve had so many surgeries—


adhesions excised like splinters,

four rundown organs


pulled out like windows and walls.

Here in mid-life, I’m nothing but pure


ruin. And part of me would like to give up,

dissolve into dust like my neighbor’s brick.


But in the ash trees that line our road,

in flawless iambs, the sparrows chant


preserve, preserve, preserve, preserve.

And I step into our yard where bees,


persistent as repeated pleas,

poise themselves before the roses,


then bury their faces in the velvet

breasts, suckling sugar, tasting


grace as insistent as the tune they hum.