Mother’s Day 2022
Mother’s Day is not all flowers and greeting cards. It’s complicated for some. That’s why our celebration at Escape Into Life contains humor, darkness, frankness, edginess, whatever it takes…
One Mother Drives Three Hours with Four Teenagers
Three hours in the car with
four teenagers equals never
more than two thirds of any
one song on the music player.
I forgot myself in the uproar of lace, diamonds, and fine china. Six months later at another wedding, a woman asked when I would have children. She smiled and a particle of me drifted away. When cards and letters arrived with my spouse’s first and last name written after my new title, another atom of me faded. He and I did not make specific plans for house or hearth, or the sound of small feet. Wait and see was our motto—though the question of when would fall on me, default maker of home and humans. I gathered fragments of myself, collaged them:
A woman reads on a faded couch.
A woman sings to a song played at high volume.
A woman goes for a walk by herself.
Against the tapestry of a meal with friends,
I spoke against my mother. And others spoke.
Three mothers who preferred brothers, singing praise,
or saying, “Quiet, let your brother speak first.”
On the table, a gift of white tulips in a bowl.
Since then, I feel mother’s anger at my words—
she’s been gone thirteen years, but she stays.
Helen, Judy, and me—friends, we don’t lie.
I was in kindergarten when the twins were born—
from then on, the boys were always first.
When I spoke against my mother, it was two
days till my birthday—she used to say
I was born on a stormy night. We say a lot
of stupid things in a lifetime, some we don’t regret.
Against the tapestry of a meal—white tablecloths,
bottles of wine—we three clinked glasses, eye to eye.
[from Self-Portrait with a Million Dollars (Terrapin Books, 2020)]
I Write in the House of Her Narrative
After a comment by January O’Neil
Don’t ask me about my mother.
Don’t tell me to lean towards joy.
Would you tell a dog barking for bone,
a babe bawling for breast to be jubilant?
My mother was not. And so I am not.
She of the gilded mask and robe,
inscribed with molasses and tobacco. Here,
where sunlight is rationed, I’m the ugly ingrate.
When I pull on the pink slippers and shout:
Look, Ma. I can pirouette, she taps ash.
When I show her my first poem, she
upstages me with her own version.
Body from body. It’s just too fucking intimate.
My infant form faltered, crowned once,
drowned twice. Nearer now to my own line break,
I lean towards the volta. The mother still inserts herself
between couplets. A third foot.
We did our little dance.
I was not chosen. Such a blessing
the dead have no memories.
[First published at Autumn Sky Poetry Daily 10/12/21]