To honor all of our mothers and the start of Mother’s Day weekend, our Friday afternoon community writing salon took up this prompt: “Your mother said, ….” A loving tribute to relationships and many tender stories followed. Enjoy these few borrowed pages from our writers. Happy Mother’s Day!
Come Home When You Can
by Steven Swank
Things my mother said:
Be kind to strangers, we are all going somewhere.
Don’t use so much peanut butter….
that jar has to last us all week.
Tell the truth, seems simple enough,
don’t hide your mistakes by making up stuff.
Come home when you can, she said.
Your father and I are here on the farm
waiting your safe return.
I return many times:
In sickness, in health, with girlfriends, without,
with joyous exuberance, burns, injuries, doubt,
from hitchhiking New England in winter or fall
or across the country, I return from them all.
Once with a girlfriend with whom I was living,
we came to celebrate with family Thanksgiving;
the sleeping arrangement raised their alarm,
so to sleep together, we go to the barn.
I think about these things as the coroner
and funeral guys lift her unceremoniously
onto death’s gurney, then wheel her
through the house and out the door.
untitled – short fiction
by Eileen Twiggs
Mother’s Day. Her azaleas should be in bloom. A haphazard mix of pink and white blossoms. Two separate plantings merged together through the years. Of course, it’s not her azalea bush any longer. She wonders if the new owner trims them neatly or lets them grow wild. Let’s them follow their own plan, rather than confining them to a shape more pleasing to passerby. She never was one for neatness or conformity. Not with her garden, or her kitchen or her kids for that matter. “They all turned out okay in the end.” She lets out a small laugh.
Her daughter’s voice reaches out from the kitchen.
“Are you okay? Do you need something?”
She sighs. Her daughter means well. She knows that. She laughs another small laugh. Somedays it feels like her life is reduced to a series of simple questions.
“Are you okay?”
“Do you need anything?”
“No. I’m fine.”
Or occasionally, “I could use some more ice.”
The call and response of old age.
Most days she is grateful for the familiarity. She doesn’t have to search too deeply into the shrinking realm of vocabulary to muster a response. She knows the questions before they are asked and answers come easily. It’s comforting.
Her daughter enters the living room.
She stands in the doorway, her features cast in shadow now in her mother’s eyes, but in her mother’s mind, every feature of her face is etched in intricate detail.
“Are you okay?”
Her daughter sounds exasperated. Also familiar now.
“You were laughing. And then sighing. And then laughing again. Are you okay? Do you need something?”
Her thoughts race around, trying to put the words together. To engage once more. She sighs again. Some words spill out. Out of habit, not intention.
“No. No. I’m fine. I’m sorry to bother you.”
Her daughter’s tone softens.
“You didn’t bother me.”
Her daughter lingers for a moment, watching her mother intently, wanting to say more but not knowing how to engage. They don’t seem to share the same world any longer. It is her daughter’s turn to sigh now. Softly, before turning and heading back to the kitchen.
Her mother turns her gaze, away from the shadows that command her vision now, inward to a world of color that lives on in her mind. The bright pink of her azaleas. The soft pink of the blanket she once wrapped her daughter in. She stifles a sigh. Too soon to start the call and response once again.
untitled – poem
by David e. Bell
(and the other wonderful mothers that walk through my life
who give her all to her children, like so many before, and after)
My heart wings
on updrafts of love
Sea and Mother
Quiet depths under
wind swept dunes
and wires singing
the foreshore constantly churning
Her other self
a ghost beyond the dunes
her armor, unyielding
Current and tide
Beaches and children
under a changing moon, sculpting
their own ships, outward sailing
A wild unshared
Once in check
Sonnet for Mothers Day
by A. Anupama
நல்ல செய், which means do the job well,
which referred at all times to everything,
omitted nothing in its tone and tells
the shape of my workhorse heart, cantering.
As I say, this is simple—a prompt, a call.
In a thorough glance, I shake the floor all clean.
The book has wandered off, and removed a wall
so that light and air play with the blinds—all seen
in the hidden way of work abundant,
obedient to the smiling lungs, tongue.
Shake the mane to any rhythm, evident
to the dancers imitating our work song.
If this song would ravel through my gratitude—
a plenary harmony, a plenitude.
This project is made possible in part with funds from the Community Arts Grants program of the Arts Council of Rockland and the Decentralization Program of the New York State Council on the Arts with the support of Governor Andrew Cuomo and the New York State Legislature.