The Maier Museum of Art
at Randolph College

“third grade” by Sara Taylor ’12

Sally Mann, The New Mothers, 1989, gelatin silver print on paper.

Sally Mann, The New Mothers, 1989, gelatin silver print on paper. Purchase made possible by the Louise Jordan Smith Fund, 1991. Collection of the Maier Museum of Art at Randolph College, founded as Randolph-Macon Woman’s College.

after Sally Mann’s The New Mothers


We knew then how the world worked.
When you got married, you had a baby.
Or when you had a baby, you got married;
we weren’t quite sure which had to come first
but we knew they always went together,
like bread and butter.
Fathers go to work while Mothers clean and cook
and drink coffee with dark-haired men
at the kitchen table, men
in linen shirts that smell of shaving cream
who give you a dime
for a movie ticket if you show them
how you can do a cartwheel.
Fathers come home late sometimes:
if they sleep on the living room sofa
it means pancakes for breakfast in the morning.
Cars only run if you put gas in them,
but sometimes men come to take them
and you have to walk everywhere instead.
And sometimes men come and lock
your door, but there will be a new door,
a different house,
sooner or later.
God is in the big brick church
with the crying woman on the front,
but he only listens if you eat the wafer first.
We had it all worked out, then.

Sara Taylor ’12 is a Creative Writing student at Randolph College, currently abroad as a participant in the World in Britain program. She has yet to be published in a print journal, but is perfecting the craft of soliciting editors to a high art form. This poem received the 2011 Helen Owen Calvert Writing Award for creative writing inspired by artwork in the Maier Museum permanent collection.