long red hair
Mother's Day 2006:
The above haiku is a memory from when I was nine, the summer before my birth mother died. I treasure this memory as it is the only one I have of her that is warm and close.
My father remarried when I was twelve and my step-mother proved to be a steadying influence in my young life. Though I did not develop a close relationship with her either, I was ultimately grateful for her presence in our lives.
My family has never quite “gotten” my poetry and I’ve become quite comfortable with this over the years. I have come to recognize that for most people poetry is an acquired taste. But an unexpected and most welcome outcome of sharing the below poem with my family not too long after my step-mother died, was how moved my father was by it:
Night Lights (in memory of my step-mother, Paulette)
Only the light on the far tip
of the night-stolen wing of the plane
assures me that formlessness ends.
Edges reassert themselves.
the grief scattered soul.
Like her late night cigarette
that pinned endless dark,
guiding one or another of her children
through the front yard
to sit by her side and talk.
Clear chimes from her vodka martini,
marked the pace of her attention:
as wide, and often as pointed,
as the hovering night sky.
And always, some neighborhood cat,
chased by billowing shadows,
paused on the shore of her friendship.
Or those rate and precious times
she shed more light
on her turbulent inner life.
Wry self-knowledge or anger fluorescing,
she forced her words
past her fear of self-pity.
As I barely breathed,
afraid to snuff out this intimate flicker.
But her greatest gift was laughter,
that tickling, crackling, life-lighting stand
from which she tackled the universe.
As at the last,
her life stretched thin
to a thread more tenuous than smoke,
she grandly mimed holding, then smoking
the cigarette she could not have.
Requested an ashtray from a daughter.
so very carefully,
put out its light.
But her light is not gone, it is still with me. Just as my birth mother’s light is more available to me now than when I was a child, when I open my heart to it. It was in a dream I had as an adult that I finally felt warmly embraced by her:
In Mary’s Eyes
Perched on a night-time hill
I watch people file toward me:
children, adults, all ages in-between;
people I remember and people I don’t.
All are energetic, smiling,
moving purposefully as if answering
an urgent call to step to the fore
into the embrace of my vision.
I wonder if Mama will appear,
the mother who lost heart
and died when I was ten.
Then, at the end of the line
a tall figure appears.
It is Mama, come to life
as if stepping out of any old photo
I do not recall seeing.
Mama, walking gladly toward me.
She is a young woman,
of an age before she met my father,
in a soft silk dress
with a sweetheart neckline,
cheekbones shining proudly
above her moon-lit smile.
She is radiant for she comes to me
from a time before the war
of opposing needs and desperate denial
that finally tore her heart apart.
And she comes to embrace me deeply,
without pain, without regret
for the first time.
Our joy opens full sail in the warm blue wind
of Mary’s eyes, for she comes to me freely
from a time when she was happy.
And it is in joy that I share these small glimmerings of the light of the two mothers with which I was blessed.
Resource: Since I mention above that I think poetry may be an acquired taste, here’s a link to a wonderful essay on poetry Steven C. Scheer's Web of Words. You might want to browse his entire site, there’s a gold mine there, and not only for poetry.
P.S. My new Tarot blog (URL below) post for today is on The Empress card, the “archetypal mother” of the deck.
‘til next time, keep dreaming,
[aka: Patricia Kelly]
****If you wish to copy or use any of my writing or poems, please email me for permission (under “View my complete profile”)****My other blog: ROSWILA’S TAROT GALLERY & JOURNAL.