Posts Tagged ‘mother’

If I could do it all again,
I would—every blooming bit of it.
Every bout of pink eye,
every snotty nose, every
late night waking, every
single reading of Good Night Moon,
every fairy house, every
drive to every ballet class,
every singalong to the entire
soundtrack of Hamilton,
every wobble and stumble
and blunder and lapse
to arrive at this very moment
when we lie on her bed
in the dark and talk about
this miracle, this astonishing
life, and watch dumb videos
and curl into each other.
In every moment, a seed.
It surprises me now,
how beautiful the field.

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I would like to go inside your pillow, hear
your breath and know you are okay, catch
the tears you cry when no one else is looking.
Today, you told me you don’t want to be held,
but I still want to hold you—want to meet you
with gentleness, support. How many years
have I been the one to comfort you, the one
you would run to, the one who could make
things feel better with a kiss and a shhh
and slow rocking of our bodies.
A pillow wouldn’t take it personally
if you didn’t use it. A pillow wouldn’t wonder
what it did wrong or wrestle with letting you go.
I try to invite that softness into myself,
try to transform my woundedness into feathery
acceptance. There is some unlikely magic in this—
a downy inner quiet that doesn’t try to fix anything,
that is content with being soft. And nothing changes,
and everything changes, oh terrible surrender,
oh beautiful tenderness that appears inside this loss.

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Will I remember this day with its greening of grass,
its blooming of apple blossom, its stilling of pond?
Will I remember the sweetness of my daughter
not leaving the house for school on a Wednesday
because her classes are all online? Will I remember
how she comes to snuggle on the couch during lunch
and pinches my cheeks and teases me about my ugly feet?
Will I remember the terrible yellow sticky casings
of the cottonwood seeds, how they glue to the hood
of my car that rarely moves from the drive? Or
the lavender in the garden that always looks
grey and dead before it erupts into fragrant life?
Perhaps there is some wave of presence
that will carry such stillness forward, a current
of quiet, a tide of tenderness that will insist
on itself for years to come. How forgettable
it all is—and how cherished—this swooping of swallows,
this opening of iris. How necessary, this holding
my daughter while the dark pool of night curls around us,
this cradling each other as we say nothing at all.  

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Of course I knew the mint
would take over the pansy garden—
I planted it anyway.
Now the garden is overrun
with thick ropes of roots
and there’s mint in everything—
the garden, the lawn,
my hands. Even if I tried
to pull it all out, it would return
with its cool, bright scent of resilience.

It is, perhaps, similar to the way
a mother thinks she knows  
just how deep the roots of love
will go. But I, I had no idea
how, despite drought, despite
poor soil, love’s runners
would spread through every
inch of my life, untameable,
and just when I might think it gone,
new sprouts erupt
fragrant and green,
sweet and fresh,
everywhere, everywhere.

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We drove seven hours,
and half the time it snowed
so I kept my eyes fixed
to the slushy road, but
there was the moment
when I looked at my girl
in the passenger seat
and fell in love in an instant
and stroked her hair
and she, catching my gaze,
offered me her open hand—
for this the first tetrapods evolved
in shallow and swampy freshwater,
for this the ichthyostega formed
arms and finger bones,
and for this, though it took
thirty-million years
of primate and homo sapien change,
for this we learned how to smile.

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for my mother

Because you are the morning song,

I sing dawn into the sleepy room.

Because you are a prayer,

I have psalms for hands, vespers for feet,

and there is holiness in the spatula,

devotion in the chair,

faith in sirens, in old vases.

If there are cranberries in my thoughts,

it is because you are the sugar

that taught them not to be afraid

of their own sharpness.

And the white and red petunias

that flutter inside my hope

are there because you planted them

decades ago.

I didn’t know all these years

that I was being made—

but because you are the abacus

I am the calculus of possibility.

Because you are the basket

I’ve learned to weave.

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I had imagined we’d see dozens of meteors

   streaming across the sky, streaking,

      flaming, impossibly bright.

         Instead, I lay on the driveway

between my son and daughter

   and we stared into the night,

      laughing and singing and listening

         to the sound of the earth turning,

the pavement hard beneath us—

   and above us, the whole

      starry firmament unfolding.

         Not one shooting star did we see, no, but oh,

how the milky way swirled all around us,

   our eyes wide open, my heart soaring, swarming,

      a small piece of matter burning up,

         glowing, impossibly bright,

never quite touching the earth.

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At seven, I sat on a towel in front of the freezer

with the blow dryer, a sponge and a bucket

to earn money for a new plastic recorder.

Oh, how I wanted that reward.

So for hours, I switched the blow dryer

from one hand to the other, inwardly fussy,

wishing mom would just buy it for me.

How enormous the task seemed then.

When that brown recorder

finally came in a beige vinyl pouch,

I played “Hot Cross Buns” like I meant it.

I blew “Ode to Joy” in bright torture through the house,

and mangled “Mary Had a Little Lamb,”

but oh was I happy.


Now, scrubbing my parent’s refrigerator

I see how the tables have turned,

how the work becomes its own reward.

Decades of my parent’s love and sacrifice

bring me to this moment, when,

kneeling in front of the fridge,

sponge in hand, bucket beside me,

I feel like the luckiest woman alive,

Mom going through the cupboards beside me,

humming “Love is Blue,” perhaps a little out tune,

but oh, she is happy, so happy.





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My daughter plants nasturtium seeds, 

two per hole, four inches apart. 


Meanwhile, two rows away, I drop carrot seeds 

four to the inch, into the soft dark soil.  


Oh, the secrets of dirt, this kingdom 

of earth with its cool and damp quiet— 


how quickly its finite borders pull me 

into the infinite. What joy to travel here 


with my girl, though she is hesitant traveler.  

One could say the main thing we did today  


was measuring—how deep, how many seeds, 

how far apart. Perhaps. When we finish, it will look 


the same as when we began. But 

I look at my daughter across the rows, 


humming with her hands in the dirt 

and I see already in her the fiery petals,  


the peltate leaves like green flags  

that know how to play with the wind.  






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Happy Mother’s Day, Mom!


I was five, perhaps,

when my mother and I

would sing duets

in the nursing home,

and though I can’t recall

what I ate for dinner

two nights ago,

I still recall the lyrics

to our song.

Funny what sticks

with us through the years—

like a goofy song

about zebras and penguins,

like the zig zag of the piping

on the dress I wore,

like the certainty

I feel even now

that I was totally loved.

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