Friday, December 24, 2010


(Whistler's Lesbian Mother)


I saw my mother's despair
sometimes days on end
Watched her find scraps
to feed her ravenous mind
Hang clothes on the line
Knead biscuits, iron shirts
Stir jam in July kitchens with
sweat pooling around her feet
bare on the linoleum she had
washed that morning before
we all got up. I tried to keep
my own shame and panic from her
but could not because I was
cut from her flesh like biscuits
She stopped by my bed at night
when she got up to pee or
look out at clouds in the darkness
Listening for tornadoes and
planning what to do if one came,
my father gone with the only car
She would cup my sleeping cheek
with her calloused palm and promise
someday things would be okay
I have forgiven her more often than
I have ever prayed. What I want now
is for her to come wake me up
one last time and tell me she is happy
safe fed held close, she has at last
gotten a good night's sleep and
I can stop grieving for how this world
used her down to bare knuckles.

© Maggie Jochild, written 24 December 2010, 2:59 a.m.

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