By Evie Shockley Evie Shockley
wedged in the top branches, rain still sighing
            to earth as a dissolute sky dissolves,
a mozambican woman turns mother,
            her water breaking loose to pool with the flood
licking the trunk below, a country-sized
            puddle calls forth the child whose name, the mother
vowed, would not be drowned, no matter how
            high she had to climb. my mother’s water
washed her bare yellow bathroom tile many
            years ago, a diluvial warning
of my struggle to arrive. we fought to
            get me out, and have been tugging at each
other ever since, tethered by a cord
            that simply thickens when it’s cut. we
descended then, thirsting, churning, not into
            the waters that hound the mozambican
mother, baying her and her baby in
            the tree, but into that enduring ocean
in whichas mother, daughter, or botha
            woman’s only choices are drink or swim.

Evie Shockley, “lifeline” from a half-red sea. Copyright © 2006 by Evie Shockley, published by Carolina Wren Press. Reprinted by permission of Evie Shockley.

Source: a half-red sea (Carolina Wren Press, 2006)

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Poet Evie Shockley

POET’S REGION U.S., Southern

Subjects Living, Birth & Birthdays, Infancy, Parenthood, Relationships, Family & Ancestors, Nature, Weather

Poetic Terms Free Verse, Quatrain

 Evie  Shockley


Born and raised in Nashville, Tennessee, poet Evie Shockley earned a BA at Northwestern University, a JD at the University of Michigan, and a PhD in English literature at Duke University. The author of several collections of poetry, including a half-red sea (2006) and the new black (2011), Shockley is also the author of the critical volume Renegade Poetics: Black Aesthetics and Formal Innovation in African American Poetry . . .

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Poem Categorization

SUBJECT Living, Birth & Birthdays, Infancy, Parenthood, Relationships, Family & Ancestors, Nature, Weather

POET’S REGION U.S., Southern

Poetic Terms Free Verse, Quatrain

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Originally appeared in Poetry magazine.

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