old coats and blankets
worn and washed until
the seams gave way
and mended haphazardly
to make them last that extra while
in remembrance of she
who gifted one and cut
and sewed other
She could no longer remember her mother’s laugh
but her body recalled it somehow
warmth spilling into the deepest part of her
stirring embers to re-light her from within
For five years, Charles paints pictures of a slender teenaged girl whose face is never fully revealed. Sometimes, there is the jut of her shoulder blades on a low halter dress or an ankle lifted to better show off the gemstone set in the center of her heel. The hair is bobbed, long, or curled, but always the same wispy blond of fading sunlight.
His patrons think she is a past lover, a child lost too soon to the world, his soul trying on a new identity, a new gender. But she is his mother as he does not know her, for no child can know their mother as the child she was, once upon a time.
In that, Charles (even unwanted, abandoned) is reassured that he is just like all other sons.
First, I want to thank all the writers and artists who joined in on yesterday’s National Poetry Day party. It was great to catch up with old friends and meet some new faces! Now back to your regularly scheduled writing…
Donna wrapped up her old teddy bear, the mink with the missing eye, and a scruffy lion in a few scraps of cloth to be put into the box to Goodwill. She hadn’t seen her childhood toys since she left them behind in her mother’s house. She had names for all of them once, but try as she might she couldn’t remember any of them until she came upon Pepper, the wolf. His hair had been washed out of his gray dye when she had given him a bubble bath, was it? Yes, 40 some odd years ago.
“You’re looking your age now,” Donna said fondly, touching his nose. She pulled a stray white curl away from her own face and smiled. “And so am I.”
He was the only thing she took for herself from that house, safely tucked under her arm.
I knew an old man who collected buttons:
puce plastic, mother-of-pearl, teal craftings.
Some were large enough to cover half your palm,
others small enough to pin on the waistcoat
of a bumblebee.
When I asked him why, he said:
“My mother was a seamstress
who was never proud of her profession.
But she mended the seams of my pants
whenever I split them in rough play.
She sewed buttons on my sister’s dresses
when we couldn’t afford better fabric
and still she sparkled –
a mosaic of stars.”
Give me a pocket of lavender
Is what I bid as you run out to play
And before the sun sets
I’ll anticipate the sway
Of your proud little body
On its way home
My mother had a pair of red shoes that she never wore but placed in a clear plastic box at the top of her closet. She never hid them but enshrined them. On tiring days after work, her feet aching in flats, she’d sit on the bed with the closet door open, rubbing her swollen ankles and telling me she’d wear those heels someday, maybe to the opera or to dancing or to my wedding.
I was five at the time and couldn’t picture a groom. I didn’t dream of cakes or white wedding dresses and it wasn’t until ten years later, when a boy tried to kiss me, that I realized why I never did.
She threw the shoes away when I turned 30, still single, and when she had a bad fall that kept her bedridden for weeks.
“I’m sorry,” I said, placing a vase of primroses at her bedside.
She touched the petals, playing her fingers over where the sunlight did. Then she turned to me, looked at me, really looked for the first time in a while, and smiled.
“No, I am.”
Chrysanthemums for mum
With purple hearts edged in white;
An surprise deeper than the surface.
My mother grew up on terraced flats
and waded up to her knees to catch frogs.
Another continent away,
I hear her childhood
as family lore
and understand it
as I do fairy tales.
Lining up my mother’s dolls
from eldest to youngest
and counting off each:
the namesakes of dear aunts
and she, the first.