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Sunday, May 14, 2017

Poems for Mothers

In honor of Mother's Day, which often coincides with or cozies up to my birthday, here are two poems I wrote for my mother. She wasn't the problematic parent, so she got fewer poems than my father, the riddle of whom I keep trying to figure out in verse. But poems for her and for the mothers intrigue me this year, in which I lost a stepmother. So maybe more to come.

Apple Pie Order

The hands that cut the apple
are white-fleshed as the silence
between us in the kitchen. Her sob
of breath. Cotton cloths, simple tasks.
Her hands skin and delve
a pale core from each green globe,
slice smiles and drop
them in the dough's lap.

My mother's hands soothe my forehead,
tug and tuck corners, tails, hairs
and sheets. Shove me forward, hold me back.
From their towel-wrapped rigor,
I know cradle and slap. Above
their industry I feel the tears.
For fear of seeing fear
in her, I watch the hands

Make a small, safe corner
for sweet flesh to be sectioned,
layered, sugared, snugged
under thin-rolled crust.
She always knows what comes next.

Her short, round fingers make do,
patch holes, keep going,
though nicked, scraped and scalded.
Ten trudging dough-faced soldiers,
rosebuds furled in flour-scented might.

From Femme au Chapeau (David Robert Books, 2007) 


WILD THINGS
-- For my mother

In the cathedral mountains she climbed
a boulder-strewn peak and found
a coyote slain mid-bound,
entombed in snow.
At her feet lay an empty bone-
shell in the high pass
where wind hones
rock to hosannas of silence.
Resurrected in a pet hound, that wild
child raced through her days,
howled joyful in her mind.
Wild things come to us
and we are drawn to the untamed,
to remember our long journey.

She housed generations of dogs,
made pilgrimages to the mountains
where they galloped through high plains
and life wheeled around her,
voices of sky and earth echoing
long after she came down.
Pairing feral with civilized,
she shared food and den,
watching them
as they watched her,
learning how frail yet enduring
the bond that tames us.

from Earth Lessons (Bellowing Ark Press, 1998)


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