Mom

Never baked bread

didn’t knit me a hat ever

or darn a sock

or carry water in a bucket

or warm milk on a splitwood fire

Dust flour onto a board with a…goose’s wing

are you kidding?

I never saw a goose in Brooklyn

I saw a sea gull. And a pigeon.


Her hair was not straight or curly

it never ‘caught the light’ not once.

Light fell onto it and kind of gave up.

Her waist was thick with the memory

of three. She moved like a wagon

with a tired axle, one of those wagons

in your childhood not mine.

My mother rode the subway.

She stared at a spot inches from her feet.

Might be flattened gum there

black as a tarpit from your deep history.

You had bogs with bodies, with secrets

I had Joralemon Street.

She did not hum a ballad

but read the Daily News.

Mom could make: A) meatloaf B) salad.

Eggs. Love was not delicious

not helped along by beautiful things.

But I tell you this: her heart was frightened

half the time like a bird’s. Like a bird

she knew exactly where home was.

She could fake a broken wing.

Had there been a god that would allow it

She would die for us and die again.


December 18, 2009
Denver