I Am Listening, Child

Child of mine,
what rage is this
that sets you against
a younger brother?

What discontent stirs
so deeply within that
you would lash out
at me, your mother?

Let us sit a moment,
and let me, with tenderness,
listen, for your anger masks
pain, and I am not so far
removed from childhood
to recognize that tone.

If I have wronged you,
speak; I need to hear it.
If peers are pressuring,
or bullying, or you feel
betrayed, lay it here
in my hands, and I will
comfort you, and offer
what wisdom I have.

Your well-being is sacred
to me; let me hold you –
you’re not too old – linger
here in my embrace until
the tears come, and the storm
passes; I will hear your fears,
frustrations, and disappointments,
and together we will figure it out.

Child of mine,
I am here for you,
no matter the reason;
your pain is my pain,
talk to me; I am listening.

(This poem first appeared Dec, 2019. Image my own)

Prayer Unanswered

Calm, the morning air,
mind lost in reflection,
mirror-still waters

Raise my eyes skyward,
pray for release, an end
to Mother’s suffering.

Nothing. Death
has its own rhythm –
emotions mud.

(I wrote this poem a year ago, when my Mother was in and out of hospital with heart failure and pneumonia. Now, a year later, she continues to struggle. “We live too long,” she says. “Pray for my release.” Photo: Mom at 94, courtesy of my son.)

Martyr’s Lament

I wake before dawn,
drive through blinding snowstorms,
if lost, alter course – without faltering –
even set out on foot when driving
becomes impossible, navigating
treacherous snow and ice, for you

So you can get where you need to be
So you can succeed
I risk it all for you

I keep you by my side
so that you will be safe
so that I can ensure your arrival

But, I grow weary, and my body
won’t go on, and all I ask for
is that we rest awhile,
so that I can catch my breath

And in that instance, you are gone –
no hesitation in your step, no looking back –
and when you finally stop to wait for me
it is too late…

A barrier has grown between us:
like an eight-foot, chain-link fence
separating me from protecting you

And you look at me with that glare
of exasperation that says:
“I should have done it on my own.”

Wait! Wait, I say.
This wall may seem insurmountable
but I can do it. I can do it; give me time.
I’ll just climb to the top.
It’ll be easy; you’ll see!

Don’t walk away! Give me one more chance
to prove my love. I do it all for you.

(Martyr’s Lament first appeared here in November, 2014.
This version is a rewrite. Image my own.)

Shadow Speak

Shadows stalk our conversations,
hovering between lines spoken.

Mother fears death and I,
sidestep darkness…

It’s delusional to believe
we can think ourselves well
or avoid pain by seeking only light

I chew on my words
not wanting to inflict harm –
have done enough of that over the years

Pray for peace to guide her passage
the reassurance of forgiveness
love unconditional

Times like this, language
is sorely lacking, we stumble
build sentences, capture moments

Tell ourselves it will be enough.
It won’t be in the end.
It never is.

(A found poem, borrowed from a previous post, July 2019, on One Woman’s Quest II. Submitted for Eugi’s Weekly prompt: peace. Image my own)

Colouring You Purple

I am colouring you purple
for the sacredness of your being
for the majesty of your soul

I am colouring you purple
for the joy that you spread
for the laughter we share

I am colouring you purple
for purple best expresses
the depth of my love.

(For my granddaughters. Art my own.
Colouring you Purple previously appeared
on onewomansquest. com)

Who Am I, If Not Responsible?

This pedestal of responsibility
has elevated me, out of reach,
out of touch – lumps together
children, mate, mother, sister…

Caregiver extraordinaire
present overcrowded by
obligations…am unwell,
off topic, fed up, surely…

I am other abled, have room
for more – not martyr related –
hesitant to plan, my purpose
for being so intricately tuned

to the needs of others, should
quit while I’m ahead – silence
the inner nag – free us all
from this unhealthy game.

(This poem first appeared on One Woman’s Quest II
in September, 2016. Edited here. Image my own.)

Sunday supper table (sestina)

Two at the ends, two at the back
one for the cook, one for the help
this was the way of Sunday’s table:
hungry tums anxiously waiting,
family dog glued to the floor
lest any scrap should need saving.

Father would pray for all our saving;
serve himself before handing back,
while Mother paced the dining floor
ever offering us kids some help
till dishes, her end, piled up, waiting –
always an imbalance at our table.

Silence was the rule of the table,
stories and anecdotes were for saving,
politeness called for patient waiting –
chairs tucked in and shoulders back
and no cutting the meat without help,
cold potatoes slyly sloshing on floor.

Youngest feet not reaching the floor
tended to swing beneath the table
kicking knees could not be helped;
from fiendish scowls no saving –
Father’s hand flashed a wicked back,
scolding sermons he kept in waiting.

My tongue would tire of the waiting
no matter how I focused on the floor
and if a sister should glance me back
that would be the end of a quiet table,
giggles nervously emerging from saving
any hope of control beyond our help.

Mother’s good nature was seldom help,
nor Father’s silence as he glared, waiting,
for the situation was far beyond saving,
and his chair angrily scraped the floor
as his storming presence left the table
we happily waved at his regressing back.

***

All the stories we’ve been saving –
childhood foibles we couldn’t help

Days and people we’ll never get back
hoping that somewhere they’re waiting

That one day we’ll meet, share the floor
minus the hurt, forgiveness at the table.

(My poetry circle tried their hands at a sestina.
This is my attempt. Another tale from dinner
with Dad. Image my own.)