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Saturday, May 12, 2012

Poems for Mother's Day

It's Mother's Day tomorrow (or the day after, depending on what time zone you live in). I'm posting this now lest any of you have forgotten; this should give you time to remedy that.

In the meantime, The Poetry Foundation has put together a list of poems about mothers (almost all written by women, go figure). And what I like even better is their interviews with two poet-moms, Marilyn Nelson and Adrian Blevins. And they have a video of Daisy Zamora reading a poem about mothers.

Now I offer two poems about mothers that are some of my favorites:


Bridge, Mother  by  Terese Svoboda

Mother burns on the other side of the bridge.
Mother burns the bridge and is safe on the other side.
Mother is not on the bridge when it burns.
When Mother says Burn, the bridge burns.
We can’t get to the other side—
the bridge is burning.

Mother is the bridge that we burn.
She is how we get to the other side.
We can’t burn the bridge without her.
Mother burns and we burn, bridge or no bridge.
She is the other side.
Nothing burns the bridge, and then it burns.


When we were the poorest,
mom paid my weekly allowance
in birds. That one is yours, she whispered

 so as not to disturb it.

If you clean the oven
I’ll give you that red one.

In a few months

I owned all the birds on the street,

blue jays, finches, a lame owl

cowled in the clock tower.  

We had to walk farther each Saturday
to find a new fountain or thicket

so mother could pay me what she owed.

We stood on a bridge.
Our soldiers were marching away,


and trying to sound brave.
Their numbers were staggering.

I invented a mathematics

to understand them.
I subtracted them from summer

 and it was winter. Most of our houses

were gone, and the birds too.
The university had been bombed

with my father inside, attending a reading

by some Polish poets.
The poems were so sturdy, he said,

 they held up the dome of the ceiling.

And for mothers of sons, I also want to recommend Sharon Olds's "My Son the Man."