after Madonna on a Crescent Moon in Hortus Conclusus
by unknown Master, German, 1450’s
When my mother was but a bud
of five weeks inside her mother, Rose,
Mom’s millions of microscopic eggs
were already intact, long before she bloomed
into Shirley. So you, too, were carried
by your grandmother first,
cradled in your mama’s calyx.
Grandma Rose almost survived
the bloodiest century,
transplanted from the Old World
to the New, where she’s scattered
in a rose garden by a lake,
fertilizing the hybrids. And now
I move through rows and rows
Comanche, Moonlight, Montezuma—
bounded by a low stone wall.
The egg is in the woman
as the woman in the garden
the garden in the world
world in the galaxy
galaxy in universe
universe in the Unnamable
as the Unnamable is in the egg.
Barbara Ungar has published four books of poetry, most recently Immortal Medusa and Charlotte Brontë, You Ruined My Life, both Hilary Tham selections from The Word Works. Her prior books are Thrift and The Origin of the Milky Way, which won the Gival Press Poetry Award, a silver Independent Publishers award, a Hoffer award, and the Adirondack Center for Writing poetry award. She is also the author of several chapbooks and Haiku in English. She has published poems in Salmagundi, Rattle, The Nervous Breakdown, and many other journals. A professor of English at the College of Saint Rose in Albany, she coordinates their new MFA program.
A native of Worcester, MA, she grew up in Minneapolis, MN, where she began writing poems at the age of six. She has a B.A. in Comparative Literature from Stanford, an M.A. from City College, and a Ph.D. in English from the Graduate Center of CUNY. She lived in Dublin, Ireland for a year, and on the Greek island of Symi for a summer. She spent several years traveling around the world, ending in Italy. She lives in Saratoga Springs, NY.