Poetry Centre

Episode 9: Shara Lessley talks to Niall Munro

  • In this first episode in a new podcast series, Shara Lessley discusses her poem 'The Clinic Bomber’s Mother'.

    The poem comes from Shara’s new book, The Explosive Expert’s Wife, published by the University of Wisconsin Press.

    In this discussion, Shara first reads her poem and then talks about a number of issues related to it and the book as a whole, such as motherhood, perceptions of the Middle East by Americans and violence in the Middle East and in America, especially domestic terrorism. 

    Shara Lessley is a writer and teacher. The author of Two-Headed Nightingale and The Explosive Expert’s Wife, and co-editor of The Poem’s Country: Place & Poetic Practice (with Bruce Snider), she is a former Wallace Stegner Fellow in Poetry at Stanford University. Shara’s poems and essays have appeared in PloughsharesThe Kenyon ReviewThreepenny ReviewThe Southern ReviewThe Gettysburg ReviewMissouri Review, and New England Review, among others. A recipient of scholarships from ArtsBridge and the Bread Loaf Writers’ Conference, Shara holds Bachelor’s degrees in Dance and English from University of California, Irvine, and an MFA in Poetry from University of Maryland. She was recently awarded Creative Writing Fellowship from the National Endowment for the Arts. She lives in Oxford. Find out more about Shara’s work on her website, and follow her on Twitter.


  • The Clinic Bomber’s Mother

    The trick, she guesses, is: be seen. Offer
    coffee to police, walk among the living
    without thinking of the dead. Never

    apologize for being his mother. Keep
    his photos on the mantel, his boyhood
    room the same. Bring daisies to his plot,

    ignore the other graves. Who really knows
    who knows. She donates blood, is comforted
    that strangers wear his clothes, irons

    linens for St. Paul’s, whose confessionals
    have never felt so cramped. Bless me, Father,
    she admits, the bathroom hook still holds

    his robe. There’s little time to think or rest.
    More and more, the wafer tastes like flesh.

    by Shara Lessley