The Long and the Short Vowels

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June 22, 2022 by The Citron Review

by Gunilla Theander Kester

 

change the meaning of words 
the long O in MOR becomes a cuddly 
word for mom, while short vowels 
as in MORRA onomatopoetic us
quickly outside to the growling 
hedgehog mama whose eight
babies fell half a meter into the space
around our basement window. 
Under curling blue wisteria 

as poisonous as the blue moon
it calls, I kneel hoping for two long 
vowels PÅ KNÄ since the short KNÄCKA 
means to break something hard like a bone 
or the shell of a walnut. My mother’s 
walnut tree leans against the horizon 
twice as tall as the house including our
chimney, SKORSTEN, which combines 
short and long vowels, where the short

shores up a building and the long one
weighs it down like a boulder or anchor
not unlike any woman raising children
pulling them up and pushing them down
but I grab a garland branch of the blue
rain and scour out dirt and spider webs,
my hand a holy cup slowly reaching
with every vowel short or long
lifting the soft-quilled hoglets home.

 

Swedish-born Gunilla Theander Kester is an award-winning poet and the author of If I Were More Like Myself (The Writer’s Den, 2015). Her two poetry chapbooks: Mysteries I-XXIII (2011) and Time of Sand and Teeth (2009) were published by Finishing Line Press. She was co-editor with Gary Earl Ross of The Still Empty Chair: More Writings Inspired by Flight 3407 (2011) and The Empty Chair: Love and Loss in the Wake of Flight 3407 (2010). Dr. Kester has published many poems in Swedish anthologies and magazines, including Bonniers Litterära Magasin. She lives near Buffalo, NY where she teaches classical guitar.

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