Mary Kay Rummel's newest poetry book is Love in the End (Bright Hill Press, 2008). Other books of poetry are The Illuminations (Cherry Grove Collections 2006), Green Journey Red Bird (Loonfeather Press), The Long Journey Into North (Juniper Press) and This Body She’s Entered (a Minnesota Voices Award winner from New Rivers Press). Recent publications include:  Nimrod (as an award finalist), Askew, Dust and Fire where she is the 2009 Diane Glancy Award winner, Lavanderia, the Irish journal, The SHOp and Poetic Voices Without Borders published by Gival Press. Her short fiction is forthcoming in an anthology from Wising Up Press. Andrew Motion, poet Laureate of England, chose the title poem of Love in the End to be exhibited at London/Art. A professor emerita from the University of Minnesota, she divides her time between Minneapolis and Ventura, CA where she teaches at California State University at Channel Islands. More information and poems at

Watching the Mayan Women
I Think of My Mother 

TI know words like wringer and washboard,
understand laundry, learned how rainwater

is best for hair and to soak clothes covered in mud
from grassless yards.  My mother collected it in tubs

outside the kitchen door, added a little lemon juice.
After scrubbing I helped her push shirts, pants

through the wringer moving to the washer’s swish.
I understand women who’ve mastered

the science of keeping children clean.
The Mayan women add white ash to rainwater

collected in the stone pilas.  The children I meet
on the dirt path in San Antonio Aguas Calientes—

their clothes shine rain-clean.
Mud outside our door, tracked on the floor,

my mother’s days ran out with labor.
So much love in this long history of work.



The shorn field
expose their ribs
while the living
turn to their hearths
and the moon
red, in a ring of ice
reappears at the windows
wavering, forgotten,
like all things
too small or too great .

With eiderdowns folded
the long married
and the celibate dream
in a sleep blanched
of passion’s fullness
or desperation’s emptiness
while the moon
in its plenitude
pardons them.


Women Who Love Judi Dench

This is the city morning, quietly exhaling
its damp; a light rain shutters the streets

into intimacy.  Somewhere in this city
there is fragrance of fruit, of cool china

on a glass table.  And the muted voices
of five women seated there in the natural

calm of meeting; they must attend
to one another, there is so much unknown

ungiven that can be given: Walks to take
through the small markets and exhibits

speaking of the drama and Judi Dench who
brought them to London, led by the reds

of the fauves to a gallery filled with Aztec gold
where they drink coffee colored by

complicity; while rain cools Wren’s stone,
women’s words rise into the morning, warming it.

Poems from Love in the End (Bright Hill Press, 2008)


Mary Kay Rummel Moonday poetry reading


















The Illuminations by Mary Kay Rummel, appearing at Moonday poetry reading

© 2009 Mary Kay Rummel

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