Vox Populi

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Beth Brown Preston: Still Life with Flowers

For Momma

“A good woman is not an artist by profession,” Momma warned me.

“She does not waste time writing immature poetry while surviving

on the money she earns by dancing topless in a bar near Malcolm X Park.

She educates herself, finds a good job – a teacher or librarian — ,

and supports her husband and her children with the fruit of her career.

When she retires then she can write novels and paint.”

Momma cautioned me about the dangers of an artist’s life

when in sixth grade I revealed that I wanted to write poetry.

I painted my first canvas as a high school senior:

“The Breast” — an enormous painting of my bronze right teat.


I never painted with Momma’s skill:

the silent spaces between her flowers set them apart

as unique and lovely objects. She would seize her pencil or brush,

her instinct surrounding us with the rites of righteous imagination:

still life with fruit in a bowl

still life with flowers in vases.


Momma, I fell moaning from the mouth

of your womb calling my name a poet.

Now your canvasses remain so mysteriously alive

with memories of tulips, daffodils, and fleur-de-lis.

Copyright 2023 Beth Brown Preston.

Beth Brown Preston has two collections of poetry from Broadside Lotus Press

5 comments on “Beth Brown Preston: Still Life with Flowers

  1. Sean Sexton
    February 28, 2023

    Quite an amazing poem. So many facets to this prism; all thrown patterns alluring the walls of human fate.


    • Vox Populi
      February 28, 2023

      Yes, the poem is very unusual, a balance between memoir and aesthetic statement rendered in song.



  2. Barbara Huntington
    February 22, 2023

    My mom could have been a writer, a poet. Poems published when she was in high school. But she married a newspaper writer. A good one. But she knew he would resent the rivalry, the comparisons, so she let it go for that husband whose other woman was not kept in the 50s prison that silenced my mom


  3. Loranneke
    February 22, 2023

    Momma, I fell moaning from the mouth

    of your womb calling my name a poet. —

    (Amazing lines!)


    • Vox Populi
      February 22, 2023

      Yes, this poem is not like anything else I’ve ever read. Very original phrasing and imagery.



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This entry was posted on February 22, 2023 by in Poetry and tagged , , , .

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