Archives for posts with tag: mothers and daughters

by Sarah Russell

My mother was a hard woman,
not given to hugs or laughter.
But once when I was quite sick —
I must have been 4 or 5 — she sat
beside my bed, and I felt her cool,
soft fingers on my forehead, easing
my headache, brushing back my hair,
until I finally slept. That was when I knew
she loved me, though she didn’t say it,
then, or ever.

PAINTING: Young mother contemplating her sleeping child in candlelight by Albrecht Anker (1875).

NOTE FROM THE AUTHOR: I only remember scraps of my childhood, mostly from family stories. But I remember these few moments vividly.

Russell copy

ABOUT THE AUTHOR: Sarah Russell’s poetry and fiction have been published in Rattle, Kentucky Review, Misfit Magazine, Rusty Truck, Third Wednesday, and many other journals and anthologies. A Pushcart Prize nominee, she has two poetry collections published by Kelsay Books, I lost summer somewhere and Today and Other Seasons. She blogs at

Learning By Heart
by Laura Foley

I was seven, couldn’t sleep,
fearing my French teacher,
afraid I couldn’t learn
a line I had to memorize.

Mom, trilling the night’s
loneliest hour, at the piano,
made up a lilting song,
to help me remember—

I did, and still do,
her voice etched in tenderness,
fingers running over the keys,
somewhere deep inside me.

Published in Why I Never Finished My Dissertation (Headmistress Press).

PAINTING: Woman at the Piano by Henri Matisse (1924).

barbara 1

NOTE FROM THE AUTHOR: I really do still remember the line I had to memorize. It was: “Une etudiante n’est pas attentive, elle est un peu bavarde.” Throughout her life, my mother, Barbara, was a warm, bubbly, inviting presence. I am so happy to conjure her again, and share her, on the page and in the heart.

PHOTO: The author’s mother, Barbara Ball Cosden, on a friend’s yacht in the Caribbean (1968).


ABOUT THE AUTHOR: Laura Foley is the author of eight poetry collections. Everything We Need: Poems from El Camino was released, in winter 2022. Why I Never Finished My Dissertation received a starred Kirkus Review, was among their top poetry books of 2019, and won an Eric Hoffer Award. Her collection It’s This is forthcoming from Fernwood Press. Her poems have won numerous awards, and national recognition—read frequently by Garrison Keillor on The Writers Almanac and appearing in Ted Kooser’s American Life in Poetry. Laura lives with her wife, Clara Gimenez, among the hills of Vermont. Visit her at

communion photo frame
There Is a Picture of My Mother on My First Communion Day
by Karen Keefe

I am where I don’t belong.
Children cannot visit their mothers in the hospital
even on special days.

Dressed all in white I run from the hall to your hospital bed
and stop. I just look at you. Mama.
Your smile is tiny. Your eyes are so blue.
You can’t sit up, but your hand reaches out to me.
Fingers tangled in my hair
you pull me into you. I won’t let go.

This visit is a special secret, just for you, just for me.
Daddy snuck me in. I am afraid he is going to get in trouble.
You are singing to me. You always sing to us but today
your voice is a whisper.

I cry. It is time to step away.
I don’t want to leave you here.
When daddy drives me home
there will be cake.
My brothers and sisters are waiting.
All the cousins are coming.

You tell me it is ok to be happy
today. You give me a little red box. Inside are new rosary beads.
When you kiss my palm, you close my fingers around the kiss.
Now I can bring you home with me
and each of your children can press your kiss against their cheek.

PHOTO: First communion photo frame, available on eBay.

Karen - 1st Communion

NOTE FROM THE AUTHOR: In many ways the crafting of this poem holds the evolution of my voice as a writer. I began this poem more than 40 years ago while I was a student at Harpur College. The version here holds many of the elements of my first efforts but now I can fully show the beauty of this memory. I know so many years later it is important to show the full measure of heartbreak and joy. I do not need to pretend it is anything else.  This day, this moment is the definition of my relationship with my truly special parents. As a family we found ourselves in a challenging and isolating experience: devastating illness. They insisted on trying to find the best way through it. Much of the time they succeeded. They always made sure that I and my brothers and sisters knew how loved we were. Both were fierce about making good memories during what could have been a devastating and sad time, one that would have been nothing but traumatic. This memory is of the day I learned something can happen that is so very sad and fiercely happy at the same time. I also learned there is a time to break a rule. My mother did return home after this hospitalization but this illness was a presence in our lives for the next 10 years. She died just before I graduated high school. She was an amazing person.

AUTHOR’S PHOTO CAPTION: This is a picture of me at the First Communion party. As you can see, it was a joyous day.


ABOUT THE AUTHOR: Karen Keefe (she, her) is now retired from international education, though her heart is scattered throughout the world with friends who gifted her bringing humility, deeper perspective, honesty, and love. She earned a BA in rhetoric and creative writing from Binghamton University (Harpur College). She also holds a MA from Binghamton University in Student Affairs with Diversity.  She was one of the editors of the now closed, The Parlor City Review and published in Anima: An Experiential Journal. She is the featured poet in the August 2022 issue of Anti-Heroin Chic. She has poetry forthcoming in the Winter Issue of POETiCA REViEW. A resident of Vestal, New York, she can be found on Twitter @karen_keef.

Wedding Dress Shopping on Mother’s Day 2022
by Sarah Dickenson Snyder

Under the light and the murmuring words
of a kind woman helping her
behind the curtains, I hear, Are you ready
to show your mother? Am I ready
for this brave child of mine
to walk out, to walk away,
how she’d never look back
as she ran off to preschool,
those blonde curls bouncing
off her small back, all those bones
wrapped and perfect in her skin.
She emerges from the parted curtains
her shoulders like sculpture
the shoulders that eased out of me
her blue eyes open through the muck
and blood of us. Now she smiles,
our eyes tethered
by some remembered chord.
When she walks, a waterfall
of dress follows her.
I’m about to pass out
by her beauty—
that first real contraction
when I had to hold onto a railing
before we slipped into a new world.

PAINTING: Bride with a Fan by Marc Chagall (1911).

NOTE FROM THE AUTHOR: This was perhaps the best Mothers’ Day imaginable.


Sarah Dickenson Snyder lives in Vermont, carves in stone, and rides her bike. Travel opens her eyes. She has three poetry collections, The Human Contract (2017), Notes from a Nomad (nominated for the Massachusetts Book Awards 2018), and With a Polaroid Camera (2019) with another book forthcoming in 2023. Poems have been nominated for Best of Net and a Pushcart Prize. Recent work is in Rattle, Lily Poetry Review, and RHINO. Visit her at

by Munia Khan

There is nothing left
between the sky and rivers
Only the numbness of wind
that mildly describes my senses

I touch, I hear, and I behold
I feel—a pins-and-needles feeling
As I wait for my daughter’s smile
to bring me back to life…
A flesh from my flesh
A sacred soul from my departed womb
She is…

I need no sunshine to relish
No weary sound of thunder my ears need to bear
The seven colours of rainbow might reduce to four
Perhaps the frozen tree leaves won’t meet the spring next time

I don’t mind as I wait for my daughter’s smile
who never fails to lift my spirits.
She smiles and says, “All will be fine, Mommy!”

That’s why I always wait for her smile
She smiles every day for me
Yet I love to wait all day

Even right now I am still waiting for her smiling face
To bring me back to life

IMAGE: Décor de la salle à manger by Charles Rennie Mackintosh (1901).

NOTE FROM THE AUTHOR: My 14-year-old daughter Zaima is the one and only treasure in my life. She never gives up cheering me up in my hard times.


ABOUT THE AUTHOR: Munia Khan was born on a spring night in 1981. She enjoys her journey in the literary world. Most of her works are poems of different genres, short stories, and articles. She is the author of five poetry collections and one nonfiction inspirational book, Beyond The Vernal Mind (September 2012, USA), To Evince The Blue (Published 29 October, 2014, USA), Versified (October 2016, Tel Aviv, Israel) and Fireclay ( Published March 3, 2020, USA) and Attainable (June 2020, USA), The Half Circle (July 2020, USA). Her poetry is the reflection of her life experience. Her works have been translated into many languages, including Japanese, Romanian, Urdu, Italian, Dutch, Croatian, Spanish, Portuguese, Russian, Albanian, Finnish, Greek, German, French, Indonesian, Hindi, Turkish, Arabic, Bengali, and Irish. Her poetry has been published in various anthologies, literary journals, magazines and, newspapers. Her words have been inscribed on a series of commemorative plaques in Ireland, including on the grounds of Holy Trinity Church at Holy Trinity Heritage Centre at Carlingford, Ireland, as a tribute to those lost in the 1916 collision of the SS Connemara and the SS Retriever. Her quote has also been inscribed on a memorial plaque, in tribute to the Hannah shipwreck victims in 1849, beside Newry Canal, one hundred metres from the town centre in Newry, Ireland. Visit her at

nancy l stockdale orchid is blooming
My daughter bought me an orchid plant
by Julie Standig

for Mother’s Day
four years ago,
two days after
my mother died.

As a rule,
I kill orchids,
which my mother
had often said I did
to her.

I was not one
to be generous
with water,
despite me,
this orchid survived.

It thrived,
grew more leaves
even rose again,
pale pink flowers
on twin stems,
as if it had a will
to stay alive.

This winter
has been long
and stagnant.
The orchid
has endured,
has grown
two sturdy sprouts.
I am still waiting.

Like a resurrection
of sorts,
this Mother’s Day
plant. Or is it
my mother’s hand,
somehow rising
from a grave,
to promise,
this one will live.

PHOTO: The Orchid Is Blooming (Polaroid) by Nancy L. Stockdale.

NOTE FROM THE AUTHOR: At the conclusion of a long winter, and some input on my daughter’s poetry (she is putting together a chapbook collection on loss, which is an intense experience for me to edit with her), I walked past this plant that sits on a ledge in my kitchen and saw two tiny buds. So much hope. I really do hope they don’t fail us. And that was the inspiration for this impromptu poem of mine.

julie standig

ABOUT THE AUTHOR: Julie Standig was born in Brooklyn, grew up in Queens, lived on Long Island (a long time), worked on the Upper West Side (NYC), and now resides in Bucks County, Pennsylvania. She has studied at the Unterberg Poetry Center, participated in Writer’s Voice, and was an active member of a private workshop in New York City. Her work has appeared in Alehouse Press, Arsenic Lobster, Covenant of the Generations, Then & Now (Sadie Girl Press, 2015)  as well as the online journal Rats Ass Review. Her first chapbook, Memsahib Memoir, was released by Plan B Press, and she is currently working on a full volume collection of poetry. A proud member of the Bucks County writer’s community led by Dr. Christopher Bursk, she lives in Doylestown, Pennsylvania, with her husband Ken and their Springer Spaniel, Dizzi.

john rehg
The Telephone Call, 1974
by Tricia Marcella Cimera

I am ten years old, sitting
on my bed with the Snoopy sheets,
surrounded by my Breyer horses.
My mother is in her room,
sleeping with her eyes open,
a glass of water on the nightstand.
She’s back from the psychiatric ward,
for the second time after another
week’s stay. I don’t know her;
I love her helplessly.
I can hear my father in his office
speaking on his black telephone
to my grandmother who lives
in another state. He calls her
by her first name, says
Please come. Please come.
I don’t know his voice, never heard
him plead before. There is a long
silence, then he hangs up.
Suddenly I feel like I am getting
smaller, becoming tiny, no one’s
girl. I want to ride away
on one of my Breyer horses.
Almost 47 years later, I am still
waiting for my grandmother, for
anyone’s mother, to call me,
tell me                    I’m coming.

PHOTO:  Black Rotary Phone by John Rehg, used by permission.

Cimera at 10

NOTE FROM THE AUTHOR: My mother’s bouts of depression in the 1970s were met with appalled embarrassment, silence, and misunderstanding by family members and almost everyone else. This had a profound effect on me as a child.  I’ve written a series of poems about the town of Boxborough in Massachusetts where my mom suffered the most—some are in a little collection put out by Origami Poems Project called BOXBOROUGH POEMS. My beloved mother beat depression, with help, and returned to me as she once was although I was fearful for a long time that she would “go back to the hospital.” One person did step in during the bad time in Boxborough—ironically, she had no children of her own and we had only known her three months. Jean Pierozzi was the real estate agent who sold us the big house on Guggins Lane and worked out of the model house down the street. She gave my sister and me sanctuary after school so we didn’t come home to an empty house while my dad was at work (he had colleagues who told him to divorce my crazy mother), she offered us love and mini-donuts, and she became our lifelong family friend. Jean died of leukemia in 2011.

PHOTO: The author at age 10.


Tricia Marcella Cimera is a Midwestern poet with a worldview. Published works have appeared in places ranging from the Buddhist Poetry Review to The Ekphrastic Review.  Her micro-chapbook called GO SLOW, LEONARD COHEN was released through the Origami Poems Project. One of her plum poems was pleased to receive a recent Pushcart Prize and another plum was happy to be awarded a Best of the Net nomination. Tricia lives with her husband and family of animals in Illinois, in a town called St. Charles, by a river named Fox, with a Poetry Box (also named Fox) in her front yard.

Small theater in Ephesus, Turkey
The Great Theatre in Ephesus
by Joan Leotta

We stood together,
my daughter, Jennie, and I
leaning one upon the other,
heads touching,
conspirators in travel hijinks,
impatient as our friend
fiddled with the camera.
Before we left home, we’d
found a photo of my mother
with my forty-year-younger self
in this same place.
Afterward, looking at the
pictures, I noticed,
our heads were touching,
lovingly mine and my Mom’s
mine and Jennie’s
connecting then to now.
We had replicated
more than just the pose—
we had joined my mother,
(departed in Jennie’s childhood)
to a moment with us—
three women who loved travel:
grandmother, mother, daughter,
impatient with the photographer,
but forever grateful to have
these paper mementos
to remind how we three
are pressed together always
into each other’s hearts.

PHOTO: The Great Theatre in Ephesus by Bloodua, used by permission.

EDITOR’S NOTE: The Great Theatre was built in Ephesus, Greece, during the third century BC, with a seating capacity of 25,000. Ephesus was once considered the most important Greek city and the most important trading center in the Mediterranean region. Throughout history, Ephesus survived multiple attacks and changed hands many times between conquerors. The city’s well-preserved ruins are located in modern-day Turkey.  (Source:

NOTE FROM THE AUTHOR: It was hard for me to pick a specific landmark—for 30 years I lived in a city full of landmarks, Washington, DC, where many landmarks have personal significance for our family. In the end, after taking a look at a few of our family albums, it came down to choosing between the trip that introduced my husband and daughter to my favorite place in Spain (where I studied my senior year of university) or the trip to Ephesus where my daughter Jennie and I recreated as best we could, a moment I had shared with my mom, Jennie’s grandma, 40 years earlier. My dear mom passed twenty years ago, so stepping once again into the Great Theatre at Ephesus gave us a connection to her as we tried to recreate the photo taken so long ago.


ABOUT THE AUTHOR: Joan Leotta is a writer and story performer. Her poems have appeared in Silver Birch, When Women Write, Verse Visual, Verse Virtual, The Ekphrastic Review, Yassou, Stanzaic Stylings, read at the Ashmolean, and have won an award at the Wilda Morris Challenge. Her first chapbook, Languid Lusciousness with Lemon, is available from Finishing Line Press. Her essays, articles, and stories are also widely published. On stage, she presents folk and personal tales of food, family, and strong women. She loves to walk the beach, cook, and browse through her many travel photos. Visit her at and on Facebook.

Terri on Swing
Thread Count
for my mother
by Terri Kirby Erickson

My mother hung wet sheets to dry from a rope
that stretched between two poles in our backyard,
her motions smooth and rhythmic as a synchronized
swimmer. She stooped and straightened again
and again, her hands moving across the line faster
than squirrels on telephone wire.

From my perch on the swing, I watched her work—
pumping my legs until I touched puffy
white clouds with the toes of my shoes, the squeak

of the metal chain steady as a metronome.
My body felt light as dandelion seeds, floating.
Higher and higher I swung, until it seemed
I was a kite soaring on the end

of a string. I slung my head back and let
my hair trail in the dirt, closing my eyes
so the sensation in my belly was like the swift

descent of an elevator in a tall building. The sun
felt like warm maple syrup dripping on my
face, and the air smelled of honeysuckle and bacon
grease in glass jars sitting on the window

sill. I opened my eyes as my mother lifted
the last sheet from the pile, with light illuminating
the threads like the hours in a child’s summer day,
too many to count.

PHOTOGRAPH: The author as a child enjoying her backyard swing set.

NOTE FROM THE AUTHOR: While writing this poem, I opened a portal to my past the only way I can, through my memory of it and the words that come to me when I go back and visit my childhood. Nothing is perfect, of course, but my life with my parents and my little brother in the early sixties, was as close as it gets. My brother is gone now, but I still have both my wonderful parents. This poem is a favorite of my mother’s, who is as beautiful and kind at 77 as she was when I was a little girl, four years old, who thought I was the luckiest kid in the world to have an angel for a mother and a swing set in my backyard.


ABOUT THE AUTHOR: Terri Kirby Erickson is the author of four collections of poetry, including her latest book, A Lake of Light and Clouds (Press 53, 2014). Among her many awards are the Joy Harjo Poetry Prize, a Nautilus Silver Book Award, and the Poetry for their Freedom Award. Her poetry is forthcoming or has been published in the 2013 Poet’s Market, The Writer’s Almanac, American Life in Poetry, North Carolina Literary Review, Verse Daily, Cutthroat, Asheville Poetry Review, The Christian Science Monitor, and numerous others. For more information about her work, please visit

All Because I Was Born Laughing
by Joan Jobe Smith

My mother had this picture taken of just us two in a
photo booth in Paris, Texas, February, 1940, to give to
her rich cousin Mae who was related to Jesse James to
show me some day what my mother looked like who
couldn’t take care of me, she had to go to work, be a
waitress, so she gave me away to her rich cousin Mae
related to Jesse James because Mae had a big ranch and
plenty of money for a nanny to take care of me because
I was born laughing, I was not born dead like the doctors
said, because I was born feet first and stopped being born
at the knees for 14 hours till my feet and legs turned purple.
And because I was born laughing instead of being dead,
the doctors said I’d never be right in the head because of
lack of oxygen to my brain those 14 hours and I’d never
walk or talk or feed myself, button buttons, tie my shoes,
get a job and earn my keep, be a wife or mother because
I was born laughing and that proved their theory that I was
not all there–my laughter merely neurological spasms and
my laughter so depressed my father, he went away (but he’d
later come back) and, so, there I am in that photo, only
four weeks old as my bereaving mother hugs me tightly
in her arms in the photo booth, the first photo ever taken
of just us two to give to her Jesse James cousin Mae to
show me some day (if I can understand) because I was
born laughing, laughing in that photo because I’m happy,
surely knowing that my mother is beautiful, so very happy
because I can feel her heart beat, hear her sighs telling me
she’ll come back to get me in just 3 weeks because her heart
will nearly break (she’ll tell me when I’m grown) because
she’ll miss me which is what my mother did. All because
I was born laughing.


ABOUT THE AUTHOR: Joan Jobe Smith, founding editor of Pearl and Bukowski Review, worked for seven years as a go-go dancer before receiving her BA from CSULB and MFA from University of California, Irvine. A Pushcart Honoree, her award-winning work has appeared internationally in more than five hundred publications, including Outlaw Bible, Ambit, Beat Scene, Wormwood Review, and Nerve Cowboy—and she has published twenty collections, including Jehovah Jukebox (Event Horizon Press, US) and The Pow Wow Cafe (The Poetry Business, UK), a finalist for the UK 1999 Forward Prize. In July 2012, with her husband, poet Fred Voss, she did her sixth reading tour of England (debuting at the 1991 Aldeburgh Poetry Festival), featured at the Humber Mouth Literature Festival in Hull. She is the author of the literary memoir Charles Bukowski Epic Glottis: His Art & His Women (& me) (Silver Birch Press, 2012). Her writing is featured in LADYLAND, an anthology of writing by American women (13e note Éditions, Paris, 2014). Her poem “Uncle Ray on New Year’s Day . . .”  won the 2012 Philadelphia Poets John Petracca Prize. Her latest book is Tales of an Ancient Go-Go Girl. She will appear at the Sunday Salon of the Los Angeles Visionaries Association (LAVA) on April 26, 2015 from 2-4 p.m. in downtown Los Angeles — find out more at