Got up this morning, and a poem came. Whenever this happens, I am amazed and grateful, for as W.S. Merwin once said at a poetry workshop, (and I am paraphrasing, from memory), “After writing a poem we often feel that it’s our last. Another will never come.” But somehow, they do.
And I don’t believe in “writer’s block” anymore. I just wait. Sometimes for weeks, even months, and then one arrives.
So here is this morning’s poem, triggered by a memory of my Mother, who having lost her own Mother at the age of 10, always feared she’d not know how to “mother” when her 4 children arrived at that memorable age. But she overcame all such doubts, at least in the minds of her children. I’m sure my recent departure from a local Head Start program also led to many of the feelings that arise in this poem.
My Mother taught me to like
She’d be in the kitchen,
Wedged between the ironing board & countertop,
Where Arthur Godfrey would croon and drone on
From our Philips radio,
Through our hour together.
She’d be pressing the hot silver iron over and over
Into my Father’s handkerchiefs,
While I cut out clothes for my paper dolls
From page after page of imagined fabric.
And best of all, we drank coffee–
Mother, from her everyday Melmac mug,
And I, from one of her Royal Copenhagen demitasse cups,
Half full of milk and sugar,
So as not to keep me awake
From the nap that always followed,
Where she stopped everything to read to me,
Sing her childhood songs:
“Oh, Do you Know the Muffin Man,” and
“My Bonnie Lies over the Ocean,”
Teased me to sleep with a back rub,
And always, one more story.
She’s been gone now for sixteen years,
But when my little pre-school students ask,
“Where is your Mother?”
I look around the room, at their make-believe
Kitchen, the toy ironing board and little wooden iron,
The plastic tea set, the nap time cots, and answer:
“In Heaven,” which means, “here, in my heart”.
Great one. I think that tomato aspic and watermelon rind was our own personal hell.
Oh yes, but great grist for the poetry mill! My friends thought that tomato aspic was a sort of blasphemous jello, and with the addition of a tiny dab of mayo, worser and worser. But I think watermelon rind just might make a comeback. Like chutney, it’s one of the condiments I seem to see in cookbooks more and more. And “unpickled” watermelon
rind is a treat for horses. Go figger!
A lovely, tender piece. And you are right about writer’s block. It will come when it comes. Keep opening yourself up to it!
Thank you, Tom. And you and I agree about “writer’s block.” I’ve seen entire books about the subject
on bookstore shelves. Yikes! Guess that’s one way to break WB! Write one of those. Eee Gad!
it used to bother me, but I have to say, now I just plow through. What If what I write for a while is crap? It’s still writing. It keeps the brain moving, so that when it’s ready for inspiration, I’m not quite as rusty.