Poet, social worker, mama, and Scorpio are among the identities of Stella Padnos. Her poetry appears in various literary journals and forums, including Women’s Studies Quarterly, Mommikin, and Lady Parts, a Barbie-themed online collaboration. Stella works as a therapist in New York City. Her debut collection of poetry, In My Absence, was released in summer 2016 from Winter Goose Publishing. She enjoys writing about her fluctuating emotional states.
Greek Woman, Ellis Island Immigration Station, circa 1909
Over one hundred years ago she stood downtown, and I still mourn
those who left my living room last week.
She is a dying textile shop, she is a peasant, she is my great-grandmother.
She has fastened every single item of worth onto her body: velvets,
shawls from the mountains, coins and crosses from the church of goddesses.
She has sewn the memory of native flowers onto her apron
and let the threads fall like tears. A paper is pinned to her chest,
in case she doesn’t know who she is here. She is no one here,
and no where. There is no place for her, but she may lay her head
in the respite of trinkets. Many elders and scattered goats whisper her name tonight, many weeks of
waters away. While her body holds the church and incense
and chanting and blood of pricked fingers and Christ, her face holds
an unnamed shape for exhaustion of faith. How many tears
and pounds has she lost this month, since the journey began. And she is just beginning, I cannot even
whisper that sorrow to her.
In My Absence
My job is to make myself obsolete.
Even this poem is meant to replace me.
A mother’s work is to create independence through love.
I am ending others’ need of me.
When my toddler says, “Go that way, Mommy,”
I know I am winning.
I remain a memory inside her when elsewhere,
invisible as a heartbeat.
My death will be the height of my success,
when life replaces her sadness.
Both poems from In My Absence, Winter Goose Publishing, 2016