For my mother’s birthday…

I’ve been trying to work on a poem for my mom, but I am insecure about my poetry.


After my mom left my dad, she started writing poems. Maybe she wrote them before that, but I have no proof. What I have is a journal filled with poems dated 1975 or 1976. My mom inscribed the book to her mother, which…well, if you read all the poems and knew anything about their relationship, you too might have questions about her intent. And I wonder if the “you” in many of the poems is my father. I don’t even know if I want it to be.

But my mother and her mother have both been dead for over twenty years, so answers are unlikely. And my dad refuses to talk about it. So.

For my mother’s birthday, I shall share the poems by my mother.

It is morning as I write,
the day waiting,
and beyond,
the night.
I do not care
that I
will be alone,
but at times
I awaken
and feel the press of dark.
There is no one beside me
to hold it back.

I found this journal, by the way, when I was a kid. The book was on my grandmother’s bookshelf. Anyone could have picked it up to read, but it seemed hidden among all the books. I think I tried to read them when I was nine, but I stopped and put them back. I felt like I wasn’t supposed to be reading them even though no one had told me not to. I read them again in my teens. I wanted to understand my mother better, but I told no one that I’d read them.

Once upon a time
there was a little girl.
Then upon a time later she grew.
Now there is a grown up girl;
Woman’s eyes stare out of her mirror.
What are you going to be
when you grow up?
Nothing nothing nothing
nothing nothing

My mother had wanted to be an artist. She got married instead because that’s what she thought she was supposed to want. She believed for a while that if she just got married and a had a baby, she would then be happy.

Unicorns dance somewhere
while elves cast their shining eyes
in search for me.
I have dwelt awhile
in Middle-Earth
and know the call
of the East wind
sweeping cold from the marshes.

This life carries echoes
of another time,
as the hollow hills
of the old magician
cradle some soul I left

Memories weave a brighter
than last night’s dreams
into this plastic life I lead,
but the flash of light and dark,
sun and moon,
reminds me
that beyond these solid walls I see,
the unicorns still dance
and wait for me.

That one was always my favorite.

Thank you for being here today.

4 thoughts on “For my mother’s birthday…

  1. Your mother’s poems are beautiful. Thank you for sharing them. I look forward to any poems of your own you might decide to share, though this essay is a poem in and of itself.

    1. Thanks for reading, Sarah. I wish my mother had been able to write more, but I’m grateful for what I have of hers. I know I’m not objective in the least. Also, I want to post something of my own, whatever the quality.

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