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Posts Tagged ‘mother’

 

 

Because I cannot fix her heart,

I plant flowers in the two empty pots

on my mother’s high rise patio.

She’s always loved flowers around the house—

peonies and petunias in Wisconsin,

succulents and larkspur in Colorado.

She taught me when I was a girl

how to deadhead the plants

to produce more blooms,

how to make the snapdragon

open its reptilian mouth, how

to tell the story of Cinderella

by carefully dissecting the bleeding heart,

how to make touch me nots spit their seeds,

and how a few flowers around the home

bring immeasurable joy. And so

I pick out white and blue lobelia and

a soft gray vine and a hot pink begonia

and other flowers and vines I can’t name

and we sit on her patio together

in the late afternoon sun

and arrange the potted plants.

There is something about planting flowers

together that changes the way

you see the flowers—the same way

a soup tastes better when made

by someone who loves you—

and I thrill to think of her

looking out the window and seeing

the bright red geraniums surrounded

by purples and blues and greens

and thinking to herself, wow,

that girl really loves me, and

surely, surely, though it won’t

fix her heart, surely it will do some good,

those draping pink petunias

so familiar, so new.

 

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And as my mother steeped toward slumber,

her thin body wired to monitors,

there, surrounded by incessant beeping

and the red and green mountains and valleys

of pulse and pressure and the slow drip

of IV tubes finding her veins, yes,

there as her speech became mumbly and her

eye lids heavied, my father leaned over

the rails of the hospital bed to smooth

her gray hair and kiss her lips and whisper

I love you. And she rallied a smile and

whispered it back. And there, in the sterile room,

with all its instruments of cardiac measurement,

there was nothing, nothing that could chart

how open my heart, how—unable to hold

all the love I felt for them both—it broke

in the most beautiful way. How I prayed

it would stay that open, that broken, that whole.

 

**

Dear friends, thank you for all your good wishes. After having a heart surgery go wrong a few days ago, my mother was released today from the ICU and is now resting at home, and though she is not out of the woods yet, she is not in imminent danger. It’s been very scary and I thank you for all your thoughtful messages and prayers and thoughts. Rosemerry

 

 

*

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I wonder who else today

in Concourse A

is traveling to see their mom

in the hospital, who else

has a parent with a surgery

gone wrong? Who else

could use some tenderness—

perhaps that woman in green

on the transporter? Or maybe

the young mother chasing her child

on the moving walkway? Or

the middle-aged man deliberating

over snacks? Today, it seems

so obvious that all of us

need some tenderness—

regardless our story.

And so when the man

in 31 C offers to lift my suitcase

and fit it somehow

into the overhead bin,

I almost weep with relief,

but instead I smile and say

Thank you, yes, I need help.

All day, I think of how

one small generosity changes

the landscape of the heart.

All day, I am met with chances

to be grateful, to be kind.

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Time Bend

 

 

 

Stepping into my children’s room

it is nine years ago and I almost trip over

the rocking chair that isn’t there,

can almost smell the calendula cream

I used for their bottoms, hear

the drone of the humidifier.

How different those quiet nights,

the amber glow of the night light,

the way their new bodies curled

so easily into the curve of my arm.

Not that I want to go back to those nights,

but how sweet they are now, how long

they were then. I want to tell that younger

version of myself that there will come

a day when she will wish she could

sit in the quiet and hold her children

through the night. But she wouldn’t believe me.

Too tired for belief. She just keeps

humming that lullaby, rocking back

and forth, her eyes closed as if to dream.

 

 

 

Dear friends, I’ll be camping the next few days, so no poems posted for a while … a bouquet when I return. xo

r

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cross-state road trip—

traveling with my daughter

three miles per song

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Shower

 

 

Beside the dirt road

we find a whole bouquet’s worth

of purple penstemon,

 

pink wild roses, orange

globe mallow, and countless

yellow weeds. My daughter

 

picks them, a bride to joy,

and though there is thunder

it doesn’t rain, except for petals,

 

yellow sweet clover, that

she sprinkles along the dirt

to leave a trail behind us,

 

just in case we get lost, Mom.

she says. Sometimes love

seems to rise right out of the dirt

and damned if somehow

 

on that one-way road

I didn’t get wholly, beautifully,

heart breakingly lost.

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I suppose by then I had guessed

that love was not only about happiness,

not only about ease and feeling good.

In fact, it turned out as the newborn boy

continued to cry for month after

inconsolable month, love looked

a lot like misery. It sounded like wailing

through all his waking hours.

It felt like exhaustion. Love looked

like losing a dream. And choosing

to cradle the infant anyway. And soothing

the wailing infant anyway. Love

had little to do with happiness.

 

And eventually the crying stopped. And

the boy learned to laugh. And to

hug. And to love. And happiness came.

And went. And came. And went. But love,

love stayed. Like a jay that comes

to the feeder and refuses to leave,

even if you don’t put out seed.

Like the freckle that stays on the skin

long after the burn from the sun.

Like the scar on your elbow shaped like a heart

that you got from falling in gravel. How it took

so long to heal. How you pray it never fades.

 

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Because I can’t make things better,

I offer you tea. I am grateful when you accept.

The night holds us both

as we sit in the kitchen,

your voice a small boat

in an ocean of ache.

 

Because I can’t fix the problems,

I cover you with a blanket

when I see you are shivering,

though I know your shudders

have little to do with cold.

Still, it feels good when you pull

the white throw around you,

as if for the moment you’re protected.

 

I think of the Queen of Sheba,

how she learned to be grateful

for falling. How, in the dark,

she found her own light within,

then rose up and shared

this pearl with the world.

 

Because you are hurting,

I listen to you, would listen

all night, would listen all week.

I offer my whole attention.

And as you find in yourself

the light that is there,

I marvel as you marvel

at your own wisdom, your

own strength.

I listen. I nod.

I pour you tea.

 

 

 

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Mom, she said, is it true? And it wasn’t

that I’d tried to keep the truth from her,

it just never came into conversation,

old horses are sometimes used for glue.

 

Yes, I said, wishing I could soften the message. It’s true.

She knew its truth already, but don’t we all

sometimes long to be wrong? New tears dammed

in her eyes before they fell. Is that really

 

the world I belong to? she rued, then buried

her face in the couch. Two hours later,

I thought her same thought as I read the news:

Anti-Semitism. Bribery. Child sexual abuse.

 

I wanted to hear the stories weren’t true.

Oh world, so broken, still, unglued, I choose you.

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By then, the blizzard was strong enough

that we couldn’t see past the chair in front of us—

all was white oblivion. And though I knew

the world, though obscured, was still there,

part of me trusted the illusion.

 

It reminded me of when we were kids

and at slumber parties we’d play the game

“stiff as a board, light as a feather,” in which

one girl would lie in the center of a circle,

and another would tell the spooky story

 

of how the supine girl had died, and how, on her death,

her body was said to be “stiff as a board, light

as a feather,” and the rest of us would slip two fingers

beneath her and carry her about the room.

I knew, of course, that my 100-pound friends

 

were not truly feather light, but we played the game

over and over and swore it was true. There is some thrill

in sharing a myth that defies common sense.

And so today, when I say to my daughter

that we are entering a hidden realm through a veil

 

and she disagrees, I am shocked how disappointed

I am when she doesn’t share the game. In that instant,

the snow is just snow, the day just a day.

There is a joy here, too, in calling things as they are.

A woman. A girl. A storm. A chairlift traveling through.

 

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