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doors: a poem for mothers

June 16, 2008

My downstairs neighbor was giving me a key to his place
so I could come over and watch TV cuz my ex took his with him.

That’s Mother, said my neighbor.

I was looking at a young woman’s graduation picture,
his daughter i thought,
she resembled him–
fullness in her hair,
something about the eyes
the mixed smile
open to the world but cautious.

Behind the photo rested an urn.

Mother died on New Year’s Day,
he continued.

The young woman had crooked teeth,
a shining face, promise, dreams:
was she his daughter? niece?

My brother, he never did anything for her–
never visited her, he said.
He was the last one to see her–
he dropped her off after Christmas dinner–
she had a heart attack–
no one knew
til my sister went to check on her after Christmas dinner
when she didn’t answer the phone.
Mother was lying on the floor–
she was in the hospital a week–
she never…

Mother died on New Year’s–
she lasted that long–
but if she’d quit smoking after the first one…
well she quit last year but i guess it wasn’t…

I’m sorry, I said.

I got some coffee, ya want some? I’m gonna have some, he said.

No, that’s ok, I said.
I followed him down the hall
past a prosthesis–
a leg, a women’s leg
serving as a doorstop.

I wondered if it was Mother
holding the door open for him
for the girl in the picture
for me.

I published this poem as a broadside for ArtLife Limited Editions May 1997 copying an old family photograph in brown ink sepia like onto brown paper, then copying  the text on top in blue, finally numbering and signing it in an edition of 200. I gave 105 to ArtLife and kept the rest to sell. If you are interested in one, let me know!

for other stories, go to readwritepoem…for other poems, take a ride on the poetry train

7 Comments leave one →
  1. nathan1313 permalink
    June 16, 2008 9:19 am

    The image of the prosthesis — wonderful. It makes the poem into a door held open to the strangeness of encounters, the possibility of connections. This is a great read.

  2. June 16, 2008 9:52 am

    Precise and controlled. He has real character and the story unfolds with the mystery drawing the reader on. The poem has a real sense of place and a very subtle tone. Great work.

  3. June 16, 2008 5:21 pm

    Door within doors..all slowly opening up. Seems so plausible..

    she hoards trash

  4. June 16, 2008 6:39 pm

    What I like about your poems is that it is like I was thinking out loud!

  5. June 17, 2008 1:17 am

    Very nice. The subtle images a prefect for the subject.

  6. June 17, 2008 1:20 am

    Sorry, I was logged in under the wrong account for the last message.

  7. June 18, 2008 3:35 pm

    easy going read.. thoroughly enjoyable story told… setup was perfect.. focus on the photo and walking through his apartment.. and the leg, the best!…

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