Inheritance – Rebecca Clarren

*after Anne Sexton

Obediently, on the final day
we enter, wearing silk doilies
on our heads, to light strings in wax,
to bend wheat into braid
and bend words into praise.

We bend words into praise,
our children squabbling beside us,
breaking the stillness into shards.
I am a mother, descended from another mother’s disappointments.
I am a helix spinning.

I am a helix that spun
while bending words into praise, that waits
now, to braid the wheat and let it rise
that celebrates, obediently
each week, the same routine
on the final day.


Rebecca Clarren is an award-winning writer. Her reporting, which is often supported by the Fund for Investigative Journalism, appears in The Nation, High Country News and Ms. Her debut novel KICKDOWN was shortlisted for the PEN/Bellwether Prize for Socially Engaged Fiction. This is her first published poem. She lives in Portland, Ore. with her husband and two young sons. Find her at

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