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Posts Tagged ‘mother’

 

after Saint Francis and the Sow by Galway Kinnell

 

 

And when my daughter

runs to greet me, charges

me with joy, I am like

the great thick sow Saint Francis blessed

with his touch. For though

I look in the mirror

and see only what I wish to change,

my daughter sees differently

and bulldozes me with love,

a ferocious blessing,

reteaching me in a vigorous rush

that there is something

beautiful here, though

she wouldn’t name it as such—

and a small remembering

takes root in me and

vines throughout my thoughts,

and I flower there in blue surprise,

my own soil, again, enough.

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Mom, just relax. Let me take you to a place where there are no bunions, no bruises, no violence, no Donald Trumps, no unhappy thoughts.

            —Vivian Trommer, 10

 

 

Start with the scent of chanterelle cream sauce

still lingering from dinner. Throw in a few stars—

you can’t see them, but you know they are there.

 

Add a tickle. A giggle. A kitten-ish squeal.

Rub tenderly. Then hard. Then forget for a while

to rub. Add a hum, and the dark that can’t enter

 

the room. Add moon. And cocoon. An impending

soon. And the sound of the river never ending.

An inkling of joy. A hunch of perfect. A hint

 

of this can’t last. Choose that. Distill to precisely

this moment. Any sorrow or pain

that might wish to rise, it is only a background

 

flavor that shows up how sweet this magic,

how sometimes the best recipe is the one

that uses exactly what we have on hand.

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as if sweet talk

or threats might make

the rain fall up

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She is across the mesa,

learning to saddle up, mount up

and post the trot.

It’s what we don’t know

that frightens us.

For a time, there is

the death grip. For a time,

there’s forgetting to breathe.

But soon there’s the thrill

of learning to move

with another, the joy

of breathing in rhythm

with the stride.

 

I follow the skyline

to where she is,

wonder what planet

I’m using to triangulate

my wishes good night.

I, too, am learning

to hold on more loosely,

to breathe into these

new rhythms, chin up,

eyes on where we’re going,

a smile insisting on itself.

 

 

 

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And as the demon prison is opened,

it’s already half past ten, and my daughter

and I have already read an hour past her bedtime,

but the demon prison is open, and so

I promise just ten more minutes, but then,

at ten forty, our hero is clashing swords

with the demon who betrayed him

and so we read on to the demon’s demise.

 

Just yesterday I spoke with a friend

who told me she thought about killing herself.

We sat in the garden surrounded by cosmos

and overly abundant chard.

Life is not like the book where we know

there will be a happy ending,

which makes it harder

to want to turn the page.

 

Tonight, when we put down the book,

just as the next demon taunts

our hero, we turn off the lights

and feel the giddiness of the battle

pulsing through our bodies.

We giggle too loud and shudder

beyond our control. It is difficult

to find enough peace in ourselves

to welcome sleep.

How we long to turn just one more page,

just one more page.

 

May we always find reasons

to go on, believing that

something good is about to happen.

I may not believe in happy endings,

but I do believe in happiness,

the way it finds us when we least

expect it. Like the zinnia in my garden

that for months has looked shriveled and dead

since a spring frost, and just today,

after the big rains,

formed four green leaves.

 

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Sitting on the couch

watching a Disney musical

and singing along

with my daughter,

we cackle like the evil queen

and purr with the catty girls,

practicing in cruel registers

we seldom use,

and I think how it is

we are drawn to imitate

that which repulses us,

how strange the words taste

in my mouth, like candy

from a foreign land,

and how our eyes flicker

with playful light

as we scowl and curse

and deride. And my daughter

snuggles in closer to me,

and I kiss her head,

and we watch till the end,

though we’ve seen it

at least five times before

and know exactly what will happen.

There is comfort, perhaps,

in reminding ourselves

how the good prevails.

We are like children who have been

lost in a dark wood while playing games,

then see a wall of sunlight

in the distance

and make a run for it.

 

 

 

 

 

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for parents of teenagers everywhere

 

 

planting flowers

all along the fence—

the fence is no less sturdy

 

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Mom, she says, I don’t know what it was about that book,

but the pages were falling out and it smelled old

and I think it cast a spell on me.

And I recall the first time I read Emily,

an old cloth book with the text debossed,

how I ran my fingers over the words

and felt them as I read them:

“As imperceptibly as Grief

The Summer lapsed away—”

Mom, she says, I didn’t even understand

a single word I read, but I couldn’t stop reading.

And now, I think that book is haunting me.

We are making her bed just before she sleeps,

and I tug on the covers to straighten them.

Yes, I say, her words are like spells.

I memorized that poem, though I was

too young to know of “courteous

and harrowing grace.” I knew only

that when I said the words, they gave

me such an openness, a wideness, a delight,

as if morning found its way into my chest,

and now, thirty years later, the early light

still touches me, still thralls.

The bed remade, she slips beneath

and I lay at her feet and for a time we read.

I want to talk more about Emily,

but the spell is her own and I don’t

want to trespass her magic,

the wonder she feels.

Perhaps someday she, too,

will read these lines,

“Our Summer made her light escape

into the beautiful.”

and know herself more beautiful

for having let them touch her.

 

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when I was young and read Lord of the Flies,

and when I read the part where Piggy dies,

I screamed out loud, You got it wrong. No!

As if Golding could hear me through the spine.

Perhaps because I also was a geek.

Perhaps because I didn’t want to know

how cruel the world can be. How kids like me

could choose, in fearful times, to kill our friends.

 

My son detests the book, but not because

the boys are cruel, because it moves too slow.

I try to reconcile his callousness, his good

and tender heart. He’s grown up in an age

where killing is a part of weekly life.

How strange for me to grieve the loss of grief.

 

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for Shawnee

 

 

This time the goodbye is in the kitchen,

me running off to the next thing,

you at the counter with morning tea

before you drive away.

I give you a hug from behind

and a kiss on your cheek and thank you

for coming to visit.

 

I want to tell you I love you,

but the words have never

tumbled out easily, not because

they aren’t true, but because

I don’t want to frighten you.

Strange to feel I must hold you at a distance

in order to keep you close,

like a mother bird

who monitors her nestling

from a neighboring tree.

 

I never was one of the mothers

who worry about fatal things:

car crashes, avalanche, infectious disease.

I worry more about the most

terrible thing that could happen,

that you could be alive and not know how

much I love you, fiercely, unfoldingly,

worry my longing

to keep you at ease could

make you feel pushed away.

 

Driving from the house,

it is not the sun in my eyes

that makes them leak,

it’s this knowing that I

have made for you a nest

in my heart where I hold you,

but perhaps what you needed all these years

was for me to hold your real hand,

to wrap my real arms around

where your wings would be.

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