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Kaethe Kollwitz, Self-Portrait (1923)

I secretly expected God would provide a ram for the sacrifice,
that willingness to sacrifice would be enough.

The bone truth: I am the woman who sent her son to war.

I kneel. His blood drains through me. “Mother” spills to the ground.
It is so. I am none.

What’s needed: sure mind in a sure body, that I may go on working
as a cow grazes, the barn a dim idea in the distance,

the life light the one light burning—go on with the work to its end.

I bend to the head I chisel in wood, a woman watching,
unmoving, no secret in her, just lines to rend, render me,

mouth shut, everything wholly felt, determined
to bend the sacrifice to my will.


Lee Sharkey

Ibbetson Street

Issue 42

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