Tuesday, February 1, 2011

2/2/82 - poem, for my mother (d.2/4/83)

Mother: the blue has gone from your eyes
like early morning in this seaside town
when the air is white with dew.
This is our home; that, my bed.
This, they say, is you.

You scream in the night:
I rush to your side
as you came to mine a million cries ago,
to rescue the child from the image of you
I'd see upon the wall
(bigger than life, and hey-diddle-diddle, and the egg about to fall.)
The next day you were always your size.
Now I wait for morning. You are still very small.
(I will not come to your funeral;
I am at your funeral now.
I will sing you praises, some of them real.)

Oh, my witch-and-fairy godmother, all wrapped-up as one:
the pain you dealt with spoons
you could take away with a smile.

Once, as I take the pan from the bed,
you forget to cover yourself, knees bent.
I turn away too late.
You are bald and young and still as a girl,
untouched by birth or passion or blood.
I wonder if I am real....

When I am still, we hear the sounds of the sea.
And once, before I go, I walk naked
along the shore. My breasts are full,
they move as I do,
I gather them to my lips....
I feel your call: I dress and go.
The sun
inside your thumb is gone.
You are as cold as I was
the day the first drops of blood
began to fall. I called, "Ma,"
you looked at the stain between my legs
and slapped my face - old ritual -
good luck; a woman now. You made me
chow mein and noodles from a box
and slept with me inside this bed. That night,
I wept. Now, I do not.
(I will not come to your funeral;
I am at your funeral now.)

I dress to go. It is night, and the full moon is up.
You are at the edge of sleep and do not say good-bye.
White light fills the room.
You shade your eyes and moan.
I take my final look, then turn,
and wait for you to die.


Nursery Rhyme #8 - Baby Toys, for Zach

We take down a crate
of baby things,
which now
only slide
and awkwardly
swing. Some can serve
as teething rings.

Your deft little fingers
and nimble mind
now find toys
of a different kind.

You love to
what is behind that bathroom door?
how loud does this block sound
when it hits the floor?

Soon you will ask:
Who made the sky?
Why do all the birdies fly?
Why does every wet thing dry?
Now you ask only
with your eyes.

When you have
emptied the crate,
we put the baby toys
We will look at them again
some other time.