Poetry

To Mother on Mother’s Day, 2016

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1.
The child leaving home
breaks the mother’s heart.

You and Dad
had done your best
given your limitation
and the fact that
“children come
through you and
not from you”
and you never really
had control.

When I came back broken—
forever, it seemed—
what a chill
must have blown
through our house!
What questions
must have passed
between your eyes
and Dad’s.

Suddenly, a home
that had been anchored
to the ground
of Waterman Avenue,
and of U. City, Missouri,
America and the world

was a small boat plying
unknown ocean waters
on a moonless, starless night.

2.
Sometimes, during that year
after having blown my mind on lsd—
which actually meant
stirring dragons of
an unremembered past
who smashed me
like a toy—

a child again,
I would ask you,
investing you
with powers
of the Wise:
“Will I get better?”

And you—put
on the spot and with
no prescience or belief,
so far as I’m aware,
would always say,
“Of course.”

and I, with nothing
but my prayers
going out constantly
like SETI radio waves
to whomever or whatever
might be there,
chose to believe you.

3.
Mother, I have no way
to know how much
you suffered in
my suffering;
we shared
one crucifixion.

I was the poem
you’d sent out
to the world;
I was your flag
of fortune.

4.
Some mothers
send their sons
to fish,
and lose them to
the angry seas,
which never even
spit a body back.

Some send their boys
to war, and greet
a coffin coming home.

There is
no measure for
a mother’s grief,
a species of the grief
underlying the world,

exceeded only — so we gamble,
based on what we’ve glimpsed —
by the Love containing everything,

which somehow
composts even grief,
to bring us to the Light.

May 8, 2016