Mouth Quill

Sugar House Review_Mouth Quill
A version of the poem “Mouth Quill” by Kaja Weeks was first published in the literary journal Sugar House Review, Fall/Winter 2017.

Mouth Quill*

At home my stroke-assaulted mother
you startle and confound me.
On my childhood bed
we eye each other.

Metallic ringing runs from your mouth.
Wailing not at gods
but from some crucible of the gods.
From those Northlands
winds blow low and rise, they ripen.
Your incantation pelts the room,
the color of blue sorrow.
One river, two rivers, three rivers, more.

My voice fails. I fear to go there
and utter nothing.
I offer recorded purity,
nuns singing 9th century Christian chant:

Gloria, laus, et honor tibi sit
Rex Christe, Redemptor.

Isn’t this your God?
No! You smack the sounding device
and, though words have eluded you for months,
deep-throated, you decree,
“This is false death!”
and renew your endless spell.

We are so far from singing together.
I don’t know how to join you:
my mouth quill has stilled.
Oh, Mesi Marja-memmekene, Honey Mama-berry,
Emakene hellekene, my Mother my dear.
Äiu, äiu, äiu, once you charmed me to slumber
on silken nets in this space of braided hair.



* Mouth quill – “Suude sulg,” is a singer’s magic tool, and is found in Estonian mythic lore and runic verses


Author’s Note: Mouth Quill is a poem from a chapbook manuscript (in progress) in which writings reflect both the trauma and beauty of Estonian culture and history as it rooted in my personal journey and identity.

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