my mother’s daughter – three poems

Invocation

The morning grey extended time, day
reversed itself and became closer to night
Solemn and enclosing, the rain
hit the windows and ran rivulets down the glass
it pounded against the house, sending the cats
to take cover underneath the beds

By mid-afternoon, the sky turned misty
and the sun pressed against the opaque sky
casting an ethereal light on everything
Waiting outside for my daughter, it was impossible
not to notice, even the grass had never been
quite that shade of green

She came home tired and cranky
I kissed her forehead and told her she was missed
at school all day, on this long day
She hugged me, and as I held her in my arms
I looked into her face and followed her back
to the beginning, when the world was raw and new

Nothing could touch us then, nothing.
And now, life, it is too much sometimes, or else
a pit of nothingness and despair. Would if I could
have lived as Dickinson or Rich, Atwood or Bukowski
not Plath, never Plath, perfection has no children
yet; the children would survive her

I don’t know how to rebuild pieces of a dream
I cannot catch them with my hands, I cannot be sure
which piece fits where. Everything hangs in the balance
and I am shaken, so much depends upon …
Did you really believe, Williams, upon
a red wheelbarrow?

*

Healing

The children are sleeping, in a wave
of exhaustion, the scent of sickness
still upon them, the baby
cried and cried until held her
against my breast and she
finally gave into sleep, rosebud mouth
open, cries still sobbing through her
as if it were involuntary
I laid her in bed and held her tiny body
against the length of my torso
I put my ear to her chest and listened
to her heartbeat, so close to me
through the small frame
of bone, the soft surface of skin.

I heard her heart beat loud and strong
and remembered our doctor’s visits
when she was still in the womb, we
would always begin by baring my
stomach and rubbing the cool, clear gel
white noise of the machine and then
the microphone making its way across
my body, looking for that unmistakable
noise, the faint sound of her fetal heart
and how it never failed
to bring tears to my eyes, each time
I was overcome with it
now she sleeps, nearing one year
outside the womb, she is still becoming
and I hope she can grow strong
in this fragile space, my life.

*

The Embrace

It is cold and grey and misty
outside; winter rain isn’t kind
I just finished the dishes
and am sitting at the kichen table
watching my daughter dance
wildly across the living room

she’s dressed like a flamenco dancer
twirling and leaping, ponytail flying
my other child is napping
it’s late to nap, but she’s so content
cradled in the warmth of slumber
against the harsh winter cold

I am sitting here, counting these
stolen moments upon one hand,
each finger slightly dimpled from
dishwater and soap
I know soon one child will wake
and the other will run into the kichen
there are needs to be met, and my
mother’s daugther has work to do.

I’m tired, but its a good tired
this is the most important work I’ll
ever do, my role is complex.
I need to be the change I wish to see
the children look at the world
through my eyes, and I want them
to see something beautiful, something
wonderful. I am changing, growing
stronger, I am evolving.

But for now, I need to linger here
listening to my life resonate
each path has led me to this moment
and I embrace it, finding my life
a wellspring of love and laughter
I want to hold this feeling,
hold it in my fragile hands
as if it were a tangible thing
I would never let go.

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