Sunday, May 08, 2011

A Few Words From My Mother

Traditional Mother's Day poems, like most poems written for Hallmarkian holidays, tend toward sweetness, and since I don't (think I) do that very well, I'll not contribute to the buffet here (for some occasion poems, check out the last week at or David Young's "Mother's Day" at A rare alignment of circumstances gave me a couple uninterrupted hours with my mother this weekend, which we spent mostly by talking about events from long ago - some well known and raised for reliving, some that I knew less well. It's interesting to revisit events for which I have some memory of as an 8- or 12- or 17-year old through the filter of being a father now, and to hear my mother describe these events to me as a peer, without the softening or misdirection that sometimes infiltrates the parent-child relationship.

Some of the events we relived made their way into poems 20 years ago, some more recently; I've mentioned in this space that the older I get the righter my father becomes, and gaining a little context makes me want to return to that material and treat it a bit differently. And of course, there are the poems about my father as young man, whose subjects I know only from what my mother has told me. Lord knows he wasn't about to talk about them.

So though I've written more about my father than my mother - because ours was the more complicated relationship, and because I tried to write my way through the months after his death. But I suppose in a way those poems about Dad were almost as much about the shared experience with my mother as they were about my memory of my father.

Which reminds me of a quote; I don't know where exactly I first heard this, but Google turns it up intact and similarly attributed in enough places that I think it must be accurate. And after watching my daughter compose a poem for my wife, I'm convinced that whether it's accurate or not, it's true:

"My mother is a poem I'll never be able to write, though everything I write is a poem to my mother." Sharon Doubiago

Happy Mother's Day.

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