where my mother slept. tissues stuffed into
night-time drawer (not being wasteful I suppose).
where the bed is no more. where I sit, writing this.
where I sleep on the floor, right beside (despite
not being japanese).
this is my everything place. eat sleep write.
where senna slept. gathered inside faint scraps
of personal life, given to another day by day.
(no saint) but better, (devoted to another’s care)
what I couldn’t, she could.
where cat-sleep ears heard one night when
mother footsteps went toward kitchen. no return.
mom’s first cold dark walk into night. (but found)
a home with rubber wheels. yet landed fast.
the last stand, last reward of frugal life. when
she moved in the earth shook restlessly.
I learned to be the better son.
twenty feet by forty-five.
where she labored her last breath.
where I held her hand. (one might think
it would be hard to do, but harder if not)
east third street. the numbers wouldn’t use
two hands. where I was a child and mother
was young. small towns remember too much.
mother makes ham, never turkey. grandmother
and great uncle lou I escort from across town.
we walk so slowly! christmas dawn.
greyhound bus at the corner. driver punches
shapes into tickets. that was the job I wanted
to do. mushroom boxes bound for the big city.
groceries two blocks away in those days.
we walk everywhere.
she left early, walking up the hill. me later.
secretary of the new peak roof school, seemed
like the real boss to me. she knew it all.
sun poured in through the roofs.
tarantulas walked in too. vacant grass fields
all around and an open door. gently sent home.
slowly a town settles into itself, into bigger.
but it still seems wrong she’s not in that office
when I drive by now. epitaph.
pacific grove. because it is. the inside breath
of monterey bay. dead-end by best choice. no
place else to go, going there.
getting there was once a two lane two hour
greyhound bus ride. long stop-over at fort ord
boot camp when the ocean was right over there!
impatient feet soon found teetering rocks and sand
and mystery. mother struggled not far behind.
mother now gone. boot camp tucked away.
but town and ocean and sand much the same.
I sit more now. but inside, and yes, the sand
still gets in my shoes, and it’s still me inside.
yea, changes like clothes like thoughts
like poems do, but under, it’s me
the way I was given me.
neil reid © september 2011
written for We Write Poems, prompt #70 taking snapshots of place
Read the poem responses of other WWP prompt participants.
Take some snapshots of place centered from your home. Use some rule of measure, as you wish. That was the prompt here addressed. And the result… not exactly what I’d expected for myself. But the poem, it turned to be, had ideas of its’ own, what to do. Became much about mother too. But then, small truth is, that’s the history of right where I sit, right here and writing now. One part of life that she built, and now carried forward by my own, even if the pieces are moved around. So yes, place is also about what, or who, place contains – like you and me.
I rather like the idea, creating some structure for a poem by using some consistent scalar measure (as distance here). I recall one of the ways to see how a young child “sees” the world is to ask them to draw a physical map of all that feels real for them – their house, blocks to school or the grocery, threads out to relatives homes, then what else? So for this poem here, sort of the same, but more condensed, focused in one manner.
One could do this sort of poem threaded by time (or what? as you might desire). Room to grow more again.
And still surprised that mother showed up like this, but I’ll kindly welcome, acknowledge. So be it.
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