A finalist for the Publishing Triangle’s Audre Lorde Award for Lesbian Poetry, Indigo by Ellen Bass is published by Copper Canyon Press. The editor is Michael Wiegers. The winner will be announced on May 12. Here is a poem from this collection:
Because What We Do Does Not Die
This is not his face. This is not his breath.
This is a praise song
for the mother who sat down beside me,
her coat still on
asking, What is it, Ellen?
This is homage to the mother
who hissed, The bastard. The son of a bitch,
I’m sorry you didn’t bite his tongue off.
This is not his smell or the smell
of the grass he cut.
This is my mother the next day
in her clean blouse and crimson lipstick
waiting for him in the store,
quarts of clear vodka stacked behind her.
If you ever touch Ellen again, I’ll tell your wife.
This is my mother pronouncing my name,
the name she crowned me.
If you see her on the street, cross
to the other side.
The man protested.
He needed the job. I only kissed her.
This is how I bow down to my mother,
my dead mother who will never be dead.
I never saw him again.
This is not his voice. This is not his tongue.
“Because What We Do Does Not Die” from Indigo © 2020, by Ellen Bass. Reprinted with permission of Copper Canyon Press. All rights reserved.