Zara Raab









My Daughter Drives


She strides to the cherry red wagon
parked curbside by the leafy beech,
then folds her slim form and slips in,
a love note, entering the reverie of
change, tuning inward, gazing out
beyond the locked steering, into
the oncoming rush of her dreams.
All summer, stretched on the sofa,
she’s cried, « If only I could drive! »
On a dime, she’d close herself –
packing it all into eyes and hands
and leans forward into the wheel,
learning to leave me, learning to leave,
learning to live on her skin, letting
the wind ruffle her hair, making the
red car her tutor, her lover, hers –
until a flesh-and-blood one arrives.
From my kitchen, I witness the news:
My child, my child, is learning to drive.


Winner of Women-Stirred’s 2006 Mother’s Day Contest






Not the tail-wagging beagle who followed her
everywhere in the fields off Laurel Street––
spotty, floppy-eared, who later took up
sheep rustling, not the black and white pug,
round-cheeked and -bellied, smelly, mouth
dripping, rear wriggling––no, this was Oscar,
the marigold-colored mutt who, the day
she sat splay-legged by the nasturtiums
on the summer veranda, trotted up
from fields of corn and when she started up,
sprang and bit––hard––her upturned face,
spilling the blood that sent waves through her,
along the dress she wore, her sister’s dress,
the one already red, now red again
in each seam stitched by the mother’s hand.


First appeared in Monterey Poetry Review 2007






She had drifted into the fatal habit of falling in with her … mother’s plans.

Anita Brookner


Show the gift of the Magi,
Swing the winter wool sweater
Out from its tissue wrappings

For all to see—one gift of
Many on the brief day in
December when the blue air

Is crisp, clear, and icy cold
And all the houses along
The windy street light with trees.

Try it on now. And so you’re
Told to “hold still a minute,”
As you pull the sweater on––

You, a girl who always did,
Always did as she was told.
Hair pulled tight against the skull,

Face washed by dense skeins of
Wool, you’re silenced a moment—
As your whole head is swathed––

As if a gloved hand had come
To cover your mouth and nose
On the cold December day.

There’s a moment in the dark,
Before you push through with the
Crown of your head, up for air—





When the windows and doors of
Your soul close to all orders
From the visible world––

A moment of travel, when,
Off the radar screen, you find
The turban in your own skin,

And you wrap yourself in it.
And bow your head and say “yes,”
I’d like to know you better.

Then you do a quick left right
With your arms, punching the sleeves––
A certain move with your hands

Gloved and, yes, good for a fight,
Should it come to that, but now
It’s a “let’s get to work” move,

Pushing the sleeves up the wrists
Slightly raw from the friction
Of wool rubbing against flesh.

You run your hands down your front,
Sealing the small pact, first of
Many you’ll make with yourself.

Hands, spread like wings of angels,
Smooth the knit of your torso,
Breasts in evidence, at last.

You turn, a smile, a thank you.
Now it can be done, now that
Captivity is over.






Zara Raab’s latest book is Swimming the Eel (David Robert Books, 2011). Her poems appear recently in The Evansville Review, River Styx, Crab Orchard Review, The Dark Horse and elsewhere. Her reviews and essays appear in Redwood Coast Review, Poet Lore, Raven Chronicles, and other journals. She grew up in rural Northern California, attended the University of Michigan for her Master’s, and now lives in Berkeley.

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