The Sunday Poem: Jude Marx... The Pearl

If our eyes were fast enough to read a coin as it flips in the air, the sides might read "Hello" and "Good-bye."  Yet, when it comes to the lives of people around us, this perspective is hard to come by.  How is it that a teenager can express it so well?

Jude Marx is a 16-year-old high school junior at Cottonwood Classical Preparatory School. She is active in the Albuquerque slam community and attended the Iowa Young Writers' Studio(!) this past summer. When she is not busy studying, she enjoys writing, reading, rock climbing, making art, and taking walks in the Bosque.

The Pearl

Your sister called to warn you
She was about to lose the house
And all you could think about
Was that pearl engagement ring
Your mother told you
To make sure to get
When everyone was dead,
The one she always wore
Because it was her best piece of jewelry—
She didn’t want gold or diamonds,
Just a pearl

A pearl
Some woman risked her body for
As she dove 120 feet below
The surface of the ocean.
This is the story of the oyster,
That single grain of sand,
The soft body
Protecting itself,
Wrapping light into an orb.

Soon there will be nothing left
Already there is almost

But your mother’s hands
Before they twisted and grew limp.
Like rotting branches,
Her knuckle holds the story of
Light caught up in a tiny, white sphere.

As you lay awake at night
The air filled with the sound of her hands,
The click of mahjong tiles
The voices of women
The little bits of laughter.

You remember what your father
Used to yell in his sleep,
Something about men
And pearls
And shutting the door.

You remember how you used to eat
Oreos inside out
While your mother’s hands knit lace dresses,

You try to remember
What your grandmother’s voice sounded like,
Try not to think of your mother
Collapsing in on herself,
Caught between life and death
Like all those horror movies
You wish you hadn’t seen.

These days you paint portraits
Of yourself wearing your mother’s face,
Watch wrinkles form on your cheeks,
Feel your knees begin to creak,

Wonder who is going to risk
Her body next
To dive for the pearl.

--Jude Marx

Poetry submissions are welcome.  Email

Views: 288

Comment by Margaret Randall on January 6, 2013 at 9:17am

What an amazing poem! Great to know that the younger generation of poets is coming up so powerfully. Thank you, Jude. And thank you, Jon.

Comment by Don McIver on January 6, 2013 at 9:20am

I really like the turn that opens the poem...the starting the poem with such a dramatic situation then navigating away from it.

Nice work Jude.

Comment by Merimee Moffitt on January 6, 2013 at 11:05am

The first stanza is so enticing--I love the whole sad song throughout.   Writing about loss, pearl for metaphor--lovely lovely brilliant

Comment by Rich Boucher on January 6, 2013 at 2:06pm

The last three lines are especially powerful. 

Comment by Zachary Kluckman on January 6, 2013 at 3:13pm

Excellent poem Jude! I love this poem so much, the imagery and metaphor are fantastic!

Comment by Dee Cohen on January 7, 2013 at 5:21am

Nice work Jude. Smooth lines and surprising metaphors. Best of luck in your writing career. Dee

Comment by Margaret Randall on January 13, 2013 at 12:20pm

Just got it that I knew you as a baby, Jude! What a wonderful revelation when one comes upon someone one has known in infancy and discovers she has grown into a terrific poet!


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