3.09.2014

#SOL14 - Thirteen Memories


Still tinkering with the idea of Stevens' Thirteen Ways of Looking at a Blackbird. My mom's birthday was yesterday, so she's been on my mind all week. Here then, are thirteen ways of looking at (growing up with) my mom.

I
Because of her,
We discovered the wonder
Found in new words and worlds,
Between rows of books.

II
Hair, rich chestnut brown.
Pony and pigtails,
Long or short,
Always thin;
fine as spiderwebs.
"Just wait," she warned,
"When you're older it all goes away."
I didn't listen, but I should have.

III
Nighttime meant
The smell of Noxzema,
Pink and white plastic pins
Placed carefully into hair rollers, and
An open Bible, read
By soft lamp light.

IV
The best part about
Being sick
Was candy-sweet hot tea
And toast
Thick with butter.

V
On the night everything changed,
When pulsing lights lit up the sky
In red and blue and white,
And men's voices barked
Commands into the darkness,
She wrapped herself around me
Like a cocoon, eyes searching
My face, crying, "My baby,
My precious baby,
What's happened to her?"

VI
Joan Jett sings
About loving rock and roll,
While Mom and I dance
Like wild things
Across the living room floor.

VII
After the accident,
When the leg brace was removed,
A shiny purple question mark
Remained on the top of her knee
As if asking, "Why us?"

VIII
Her hands and knees
Press firmly to the floor.
I stand in front of her,
Watching.
She arches her back up,
then down.
Then up again.
I laugh.
"Don't laugh," she huffs,
Back swaying down once more.
"I'm doing my calisthenics."

IX
Words are a game
In her mouth,
Rolling around like a ball
On a roulette wheel.

X
She sang,
And sings still.
Prayers and praise
Sent up to heaven
Note by note.

XI
I wake, finding her poised
At the edge of my bed,
Crying.
Her body curls over itself;
A wilting plant.
"Oh honey," she whispers,
"What am I going to do?"

XII
Her superpower
Is knowing just the right card,
Remembering every birthday and
Always, always writing in that
Perfectly formed print
The words you need to hear.

XIII
On Friday nights
In those desert days,
Mom and her best girl friends
Hit the casinos
But she never left without
Me first placing
A lucky quarter into her waiting hand.

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