HomeSouthern VoiceTwo Poems by Marianne Mersereau

Two Poems by Marianne Mersereau

First Grade Teacher

“A word after a word after a word is power.”
-Margaret Atwood

As a child, I spent hours
pretending to be her –
playing school, playing teacher.

She’s still present as I write –
arranged my paragraphs
pulls my poetry lines
punctuates my speech
and peers over my shoulder.

She also taught my mother,
touching two generations –
the first person outside my family
to love me, the first to show me
the power of the written word.


Appalachian Goddess

I opened my mouth
sunk my teeth into names
twisted them round on
my tongue: Brilliant Hillbilly
Ignorant Beach Bum
I forgot all I knew
except where I came from:
holler, gap, ridge or hill
A holy roller drinking
from a moonshine still.
I spoke in tongues
I did not understand
Picked up two serpents
with my right hand
Lost my religion
Found my faith
Now I’m a goddess
in the grip of grace.

Marianne Mersereau grew up on Virginia’s Crooked Road near the border of Tennessee, Kentucky and North Carolina. She is the author of a chapbook, Timbrel (Finishing Line Press, 2013). Her writing has appeared in The Hollins Critic, Bella Grace and Entropy, and is forthcoming in The Dead Mule School of Southern Literature, and Still Point Arts Quarterly. She was named a finalist in Seattle’s Poetry on Buses, Public Poetry Houston’s Anthology, “Enough” and Artists Embassy International’s Dancing Poetry Contest. She currently resides in the Pacific Northwest. Read her previous work in Deep South here.

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