Archives for posts with tag: mothers and daughters

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Waiting
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.

Khan

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 muniakhan.com

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,
somehow,
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.

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ABOUT THE AUTHOR:
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: history.com)

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.

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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 joanleotta.wordpress.com 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.

TerriSalemReadingOct2014

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 www.terrikirbyerickson.com.

Margie_&_baby_Joan
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.

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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 lavatransforms.org.

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SONG OF MAYHEM
by Mary-Marcia Casoly

Mother, may I sleep with danger?
To be sure, you shortchange me at every chance!
Mother, may I grow parlance with flowers?
Not until the full moon umbrella steps on parsley.
Mother, may I kiss every knot of the wild?
You’ll come to make the very trees crabwalk and commit to arson.
Mother, is your whim for your seven daughters always so impartial?
No arousal is ever without risk.
Mother, may I be with child?
When you’ve trusted your own thin larceny, and not before opening
and shutting the Book nineteen times, jumping forward with feet apart,
then again, bringing your feet back together.

Mother, may I swim the ocean in order to find love?
You must wait an hour after eating before taking to water and
you must lamppost: lie face down and stretch arms forward, bring your feet
to that point reached by your fingertips.
Mother I have spoken in tongues!
For naught, you did not ask!  Walk backwards this very minute, return to
the starting line.

Daughters you will age me before my month is due.
Mother may I sing your song of mayhem: I love him. I love him, he is my frog.
Mother, may I may I may I may I may I may I —— eye May?
Son, wherever did you come from?

IMAGE: “Madame Meerson and Her Daughter,” pastel drawing by Mary Cassatt (1899).

NOTE FROM THE AUTHOR: “The Song of Mayhem” came from memories of the schoolyard, the children’s game: Mother May I. The movie title Mother, May I Sleep with Danger (1996) spurred along a sense of It’s not nice to fool Mother Nature and the Seven May Sisters.

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ABOUT THE AUTHOR: Mary-Marcia Casoly is the author of Run to Tenderness (Pantograph & Goldfish Press 2002) and the editor of Fresh Hot Bread, a local zine of Waverley Writers — an open poetry forum based in the San Francisco Bay area. Her chapbook Lost Pages of Bird Lore was published by Small Change Series, Word Temple Press (2011) Her chapbook Australia Dreaming is included in the The Ahadada Reader 3, published by Ahadada Press (2010).

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MAY OR MAY NOT
by Tara Andrews

I may or may not
know the answer to
the Jeopardy question
when I’m watching
the program with
my mother, who
likes to win, to be
right, to know facts.
 
Even if I may know
the answer, I will not
say the answer.
 
If I say the answer
I may ruin my mother’s
day. She looks forward
to the program from the
time she gets up. Sometimes
she stays awake all
night, waiting for
it to come on.
 
My biggest temptation
comes when I know
the answer to Final
Jeopardy. The answer
sticks in my throat
like a fishbone.
 
I think my mother
senses that I’m holding
back, that I know more
than I let on.
 
She’s smart that way.
Too smart to reveal
everything she knows.
At least to me.

ABOUT THE AUTHOR: Tara Andrews is a poet and author of children’s books. Visit her at taraandrewswriter.com.

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A PRACTICAL MOM
by Amy Uyematsu

A practical mom
can go to Bible study every Sunday
and swear she’s still not convinced,
but she likes to be around people who are.
We have the same conversation
every few years—I’ll ask her if she stops
to admire the perfect leaves
of the Japanese maple
she waters in her backyard,
or tell her how I can gaze for hours
at a desert sky and know this
as divine. Nature, she says,
doesn’t hold her interest. Not nearly
as much as the greens, pinks, and grays
of a Diebenkorn abstract, or the antique
Tiffany lamp she finds in San Francisco.
She spends hours with her vegetables,
tasting the tomatoes she’s picked that morning
or checking to see which radishes are big enough to pull.
Lately everything she touches bears fruit,
from new-green string beans to winning
golf strokes, glamorous hats she designs and sews,
soaring stocks with their multiplying shares.
These are the things she can count in her hands,
the tangibles to feed and pass on to daughters
and grandchildren who can’t keep up with all
the risky numbers she depends on, the blood-sugar counts
and daily insulin injections, the monthly tests
of precancerous cells in her liver and lungs.
She’s a mathematical wonder with so many calculations
kept alive in her head, adding and subtracting
when everyone else is asleep.

PAINTING: “Seawall” (!957) by Richard Diebenkorn (1922-1993).

SOURCE: “A Practical Mother” appears in Amy Uyematsu‘s collection Stone Bow Prayer (Copper Canyon Press, 2005), available at Amazon.com.

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ABOUT THE AUTHOR: Amy Uyematsu was raised in Southern California by parents who had been interned in American camps during World War II. She earned her undergraduate degree in mathematics at the University of California at Los Angeles. She is the author of several poetry collections, including Stone Bow Prayer (2005), Nights of Fire, Nights of Rain (1997), and 30 Miles from J-Town (1992), which won the Nicholas Roerich Poetry Prize. Uyematsu co-edited the seminal anthology Roots: An Asian American Reader (1971), and her work has been included in the anthologies Bear Flag Republic: Prose Poems and Poetics from California (2008), The Misread City: New Literary Los Angeles (2003), and Sister Stew: Fiction and Poetry by Women (1991). She has also collaborated with multimedia artists Joan Watanabe and Roger Shimomura. Uyematsu taught math at Venice High School for more than 25 years before retiring. She lives in Culver City, California.

Author photo by Raul Contreras

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MOTHER, WASHING DISHES
by Susan Meyers

She rarely made us do it—
we’d clear the table instead—so my sister and I teased
that some day we’d train our children right
and not end up like her, after every meal stuck
with red knuckles, a bleached rag to wipe and wring.
The one chore she spared us: gummy plates
in water greasy and swirling with sloughed peas,
globs of egg and gravy.

Or did she guard her place
at the window? Not wanting to give up the gloss
of the magnolia, the school traffic humming.
Sunset, finches at the feeder. First sightings
of the mail truck at the curb, just after noon,
delivering a note, a card, the least bit of news.

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ABOUT THE AUTHOR: Susan Meyers is the inaugural winner of the Cider Press Review Editors Prize for her poetry collection My Dear, Dear Stagger Grass. The collection was also a finalist for the National Poetry Series, the Prairie Schooner Book Prize, and the Robert Dana Anhinga Poetry Prize. Her book Keep and Give Away (University of South Carolina Press, 2006) received the South Carolina Poetry Book Prize, the Southern Independent Booksellers Alliance (SIBA) Book Award for Poetry, and the Brockman-Campbell Book Award. Her chapbook Lessons in Leaving received the 1998 Persephone Press Book Award. A long-time writing instructor with an MFA from Queens University of Charlotte, Meyers teaches poetry workshops and classes in community programs. She is a past president of the poetry societies of both North and South Carolina. She and her husband live in the rural community of Givhans, South Carolina.