Mother of

PaintbrushesRaiface downRainriin the water cup 
and the red tendrilsRainreaching like the summer 
she taught meRito swim at the Y – ear to the water 
and listen! Rainthe long vowels ofRainiichildren dimming
to a warble under the surface,Rialmost holy to be held
that way,Rainmy small body liftedRainiiby the water and 
my mother’s hands, my mother whoRidpulled me from 
nothingness into existence asRidsimply as a brush
tows red across aRainraicanvas until it’s an acre of
bowing poppies, red as my lips drawing another 
breath,Rainrainred as a choir, I want to fill my pockets
with the color my mother made,Rainrato break the red
mountain and eat its red pulp, to pin its red wings
to my back and walk the redRiidesert of my heart
that learnedRiiifrom my motherRainriihow to live.

Ruth Awad is a Lebanese-American poet, 2021 NEA Poetry Fellow, and the author of Set to Music a Wildfire (Southern Indiana Review Press, 2017), winner of the 2016 Michael Waters Poetry Prize and the 2018 Ohioana Book Award for Poetry. Alongside Rachel Mennies, she is the co-editor of The Familiar Wild: On Dogs & Poetry (Sundress Publications, 2020). She is the recipient of the 2020 and 2016 Ohio Arts Council Individual Excellence Award. Her work appears in Poetry, Poem-a-Day, The Believer, The New Republic, Kenyon Review, Pleiades, The Missouri Review, The Rumpus, and elsewhere.