Archives for posts with tag: mothers

mystical-conversation redon
How to Lose Your Mom Over and Over
by Lylanne Musselman

After her hard falls, more messy accidents,
you give in to the reality mom is too hard to handle
at home, since dementia has deteriorated her health
in these two years you’ve been sole caregiver.

Confined to her wheelchair, it’s a mystery how
she escaped the first nursing home you thought
extremely secure. You’re thankful she didn’t become
a statewide Silver Alert in that chilly October air.

With mom settled into a new facility, you make it through
a first Christmas without her at family gatherings. Visit her
four or five times a week. Adapt to other’s well-meaning phrase:
“You’re so lucky! At least you still have your mom.”

Never expect a pandemic lockdown of nursing homes,
or that her hugs from last March will have to hold you.
Call her often, she doesn’t understand why you’re not visiting,
she cries hearing your voice, you never know how to hang up.

Summer, a reprieve of outdoor visits, with masks, six feet apart,
no hugs, no touching. Hard for her to understand the need
for distance, she accuses you of not caring whether she’s dead
or alive, then begs to drive. So much for happy visits.

In autumn, her nursing home locks down again. You’re thankful
they have no Covid-19 cases. Until they do in late October,
then the call: “Your mom has a fever spike.” Nurses assure you
she’s tested negative twice. In November, she’s isolated

in the Covid unit, afraid and alone. Her nurse calls several times:
“Your mom is yelling nonstop! We don’t know how to calm her down.”
Upsetting since no visits are allowed. That Monday, go stand outside
her window. She recognizes you, but she’s a shell of herself.

Her death glares you in the face. Hospice needs to be called.
On Friday the 13th: “Honey, your mom is going to meet Jesus.
It won’t be long.” These words are hard to hear anytime,
but when you can’t be there, it’s cruel. You’re isolated, lost.

You hope she’s in a better place. Know she hated the rest “home,”
being forced to play Bingo, being limited to that wheelchair,
never knowing why her parents weren’t visiting.

PAINTING: Mystical Conversation by Odilon Redon (1896).

Musselman2 copy

NOTE FROM THE AUTHOR: When I saw the call for a “How to” poem, I knew I had to write about what it was like to deal with my mom’s dementia, the nursing home, and then her death. 2020 was a hard year. I felt by writing about the experience in this way, it would not feel like such a heavy poem, and it would be one that I could write without feeling that I couldn’t deal with the pain of it all over again. Anyone who deals with a loved one with dementia knows what a hard thing it is, and then when a pandemic hits and puts so many limitations on everyone, it makes a hard situation harder. My mom didn’t survive the year, and I’m still processing all that’s happened. Being a poet helps, as most of us know it’s how we process our feelings.

AUTHOR’S NOTE ON THE PHOTO: I had to include a photo taken last summer during the few months that I was able to visit my mom, outside with a mask, and at a distance. She was not one to keep her mask on. I miss her, and those hard visits.

Musselman1 copy

ABOUT THE AUTHOR: Lylanne Musselman is an award-winning poet, playwright, and visual artist, living in Indiana. Her work has appeared in Pank, The Tipton Poetry Journal, The New Verse News, Rose Quartz Magazine, Silver Birch Press, and The Ekphrastic Review, among others, and many anthologies. Musselman is the author of five chapbooks, including Red Mare 16 (Red Mare Press, 2018), a co-author of the volume of poetry, Company of Women New and Selected Poems (Chatter House Press, 2013), and the author of the full-length poetry collection, It’s Not Love, Unfortunately (Chatter House Press, 2018). Musselman is currently working on another volume of poetry. Visit her at lylannemusselman.wordpress.com and on Facebook

two women and dove 1956
How to love a daughter
by Rose Mary Boehm

She will never forgive you
your love. She will reject the profound knowledge
that you are bound to each other.
Oh, sometimes, very occasionally,
she’ll almost be seduced by your insistence.
Make no mistake, it’s only a truce,
never peace. There is no steadfastness
in her offering of absolution.
She loved you once with a fierce
and all-consuming emotion.
That she will never forgive.
Neither will she forgive
that you had a life of your own,
that you needed to leave for fear
of the master. She looks at you
and finds you wanting
and tells you in a roundabout way
that you failed.
And you know you are guilty.
You look into her eyes
and feel her pain. She is judging you
and you will never forgive yourself.

IMAGE: Two Women and Dove by Pablo Picasso (Lithograph, 1956).

NOTE FROM THE AUTHOR: My first marriage became a little “crowded” at one point, and quite untenable. I had to leave. I left the country for what I thought would be two or three years. My daughter, 19 and a bit at the time, was the hardest hit. And, even though I supposedly left them with their father, he soon moved in with his girlfriend. Soon her older brother left too. She stayed behind in our big, old, rambling family home. It took my daughter years to “forgive” me. I carried the guilt for a long time.

BOEHM2

ABOUT THE AUTHOR: Rose Mary Boehm is a German-born British national living and writing in Lima, Peru. Her poetry has been published widely in mostly US poetry reviews (online and print). She was twice nominated for a Pushcart. Her fourth poetry collection, The Rain Girl, was published by Chaffinch Press in 2020. Visit her at rose-mary-boehm-poet.com and YouTube.

Wiley1
Masked Crusaders
by Lisa Wiley

Every feature
(save our mischievous eyes)
covered,

our masks transform us
into fierce Marvel heroines
on cherry-blossomed walks,

or at crowded curbside pick-ups.
More than the latest fashion accessory,
they give us power to carry on,

leap over colossal obstacles
while evading the insidious enemy.
My daughter will not be daunted,

dissuaded, discouraged
by reports from the frontlines—
she holds fast to her dream

of becoming a genuine superhero,
donning a nurse’s N95,
so she can fight for good.

PHOTO: The author’s masked photo, a selfie after a run.

NOTE FROM THE AUTHOR: I was inspired by going around town masked with my daughter this spring to write this poem.

Wiley2

ABOUT THE AUTHOR: Lisa Wiley teaches creative writing at SUNY Erie Community College in Buffalo, NY.  She is the author of three chapbooks, including Chamber Music (Finishing Line Press, 2013). Her latest chapbook, Eat Cake for Breakfast, a tribute to Kate Spade, is forthcoming from Dancing Girl Press.  Her poetry has appeared in The Healing Muse, Journal of the American Medical Association, Mom Egg Review, Rockhurst Review, Silver Birch Press, and Third Wednesday among others. Visit her on Facebook and Twitter.

PHOTO: The author (left) with her daughter Madeline, future RN, in the family’s backyard.

mary langer thompson 1
Masks and Mothers
by Mary Langer Thompson

I don my mask this Mother’s Day
to deliver flowers to my aging-in-place
already aged mom through the garage door
of her Sun City home where
she’s isolated and can see no sun
or city and waits on the laundry porch
wearing her protection that I brought her yesterday.

I race home to wave at my muzzled son
through my window. I can’t let him in
because his dad is sick already.
But then I decide to see him in the flesh,
so fling open the door, whereupon
he lifts his foot to show his “Call Mom” socks
then runs to leave toilet paper and an orchid
on the side of the house.

We’re sequestering looking surreal
with dark circles under our eyes and punked hair,
like that muffled Tape Man of Las Vegas,
while we silently mime truths of love.

ABOUT THE AUTHOR: Who would think like could be so hectic while sequestering? Mary Langer Thompson is a retired school principal and former English teacher who now writes full time. In 2012, she was the Senior Poet Laureate of California. She leads The Poemsmiths, a poetry critique group that meets bi-weekly, currently on Zoom.

nick-kane-VZ1Gjc5MP-Y-unsplash copy
My Lockdown Mask
by Carolyn O’Connell

I’ve not walked through the woods with you
heard the chime of bluebells, or passed
the garden where the wooden dinosaur rises
over the young trees planted last year.

I’ve not had hugs from you or sat at your table
while you prepared dinner, your girls
winding a path of chatter through the house
as you juggle being teacher, mother, and daughter.

Enclosed like a vestal in some far temple:
a hostage in a blue mask to the Pandemic God;
as the sun wakens earlier each morning
and others congregate below my window
like the blackbirds chattering in the hedge.

My mask sits unworn for everything’s delivered
and I’m seen only on the video of my computer
it’s the window of my Anchorite’s cell
where friends appear seeking my words.

While you in a handmade mask travel to teach
to children who’d rather be at home –
though they’re teens they know they’ll never get an “A”
they don’t know the meaning of social distance
but you’ll support them as you’ve always done.

I’m waiting for the day I can walk with you again
when arm in arm we’ll walk beside the river
and look back upon these days when you
came to me, when we only spoke as I stood at the door.

There I can sometimes see your daughters,
who sit quietly on the far step I cannot cross
for you have taught them how to social distance.

Photo of a walk beside the river by Nick Kane on Unsplash

NOTE FROM THE AUTHOR: This poem is a reflection and conversation with my daughter on how it feels living in Lockdown and not having gone further than the front step since it began.

oconnell

ABOUT THE AUTHOR: Carolyn O’Connell lived in London but now lives in Cheshire U.K. She has been published in Envoi, Reach, and other magazines, online and print, and in anthologies. Her debut collection Timelines was published by Indigo Dreams 2014. Her poems have been translated into Romanian via The University of Bucharest Translation Café/Poetrypf.com PoetryR/O project. Visit her blog, on Facebook, on Twitter, at Goodreads, and here.

pal 1
The blue sock
by Sunayna Pal

4 months and 23 days
after my son’s birth
I lost his blue sock.
We had 3 pairs of socks.
He wore one pair for 2 days.
Missing a sock meant
the schedule would go for a toss.
Why did it have to be the blue one?
It went with everything my son wore.

Websites told me
that kids lose their socks often
And a mother shouldn’t fret about it.
It wasn’t he who had lost it though.
It was my laundry blunder.
I started to worry
and pull my hair apart.
I searched everywhere.
Even in places that I didn’t expect.
Even in places I hadn’t been in for months.
I searched EVERYWHERE.
I made my husband search,
I made my mother search.
I even asked the baby.

I felt like a failure
as a mom.
How was I to take care of my baby
If I couldn’t even keep a track of 3 pairs of socks.
How was I to take care of a whole baby.
Despair creeped in,
In my every moment.
Prayers didn’t seem to help.
I felt defeated.

After a week full of search,
I finally gave up.
Full of anxiety,
on laundry day,
I collected the clothes in a hamper.
I took a deep breath
Before I changed my baby’s clothes
And,
Behold,
I found the sock.
It was inside a footsie.
I had checked the clothes
But not the inside of each.

I couldn’t believe it.
Was it the one sock I already had?
I checked.
I sighed deeply with joy
As I looked at the pair.
Maybe I would be fine.
Maybe I will survive motherhood.
Maybe it will be fine, after all.
Maybe.

IMAGE: The author with her infant son.

NOTE FROM THE AUTHOR: In India, there are neighbors and relatives who help you take care of yourself and your newborn. America didn’t give me this luxury. Though my mom was here to help me for a few weeks, I, a pampered girl, found it very difficult to take care of everything alone. Losing the sock did cause a lot of anxiety. It is over a year since that incident and I have calmed down as a mother and grown more confident with time . . . but I remember feeling really happy when I found the sock. I can proudly say – in 15  months and we haven’t lost any socks.

ABOUT THE AUTHOR: Born and raised in Mumbai, India, Sunayna Pal moved to the U.S. after her marriage. She has PG degrees from XLRI and Annamalai University, and worked in the corporate world for five odd years before braking the chains to embark on her heart’s pursuits. She started “Art with Sunayna” (artwithsunayna.wordpress.com) to teach and sell art for NGOs and became a certified handwriting analyst (sos4graphology.com) to help people better understand themselves by using a mix of graphotherapy, healing, and affirmations. A new mother, Sunayna also loves gardening and photography, and enjoys writing from her daily life experiences. Many of her articles have been published in magazines and on websites. She is a proud contributor to many international anthologies. In her little spare time, she also maintains a blog at mannkiwindow.wordpress.com. She is currently working on an anthology of 51 stories about people who are of South Asian origin and have an experience to share about the U.S..

bhatia
Me, in a HAT, Without Her
by Megha Punjabi

The thoughts of despair, often termed as unjust
What is fair and what is not
Who is to decide, when one gets what one deserves.
As I walk by the canal, the wind passes through the strands of my hair
I take out the hat from my bag
The hat, which was a gift from my mother

I had turned 18 that year, last birthday with my mom
Because then I was an adult to lead my life without her
Or, so did my fate conclude, I was left alone in this world
Never hugged her enough, never kissed her enough
And didn’t love her, the way she deserved
Only sobbed enough, in her absence, when the emptiness never
     seemed to be filled

Hat, you are a very precious thing to me
Last token of love from her
I wear it when I miss her the most
Only end up, missing her even more
Also, sometimes reliving the memories, I never want to fade away
Tears might have found their place, and doesn’t roll down the cheeks
     anymore.

But what do I do about that empty part in my heart
Which never seem to feel the same, without you?
Sometimes I see you in my dreams
And then you vanish into a land
Where I can’t reach or see you.
I wish I could rewind and live those days with you again.

PHOTO: The author in Amsterdam, The Netherlands (July 2016)

NOTE FROM THE AUTHOR: My first visit to the continent of Europe, took me to the beautiful city, Amsterdam, Netherlands, it was like “love at first sight”. The place took me to another world, which is nowhere but, inside me. It kind of helped me connect with my inner soul and my mom. The black hat which I wore was my mom’s last gift to me, who passed away 9 years ago in 2007.

bio_bhatia

ABOUT THE AUTHOR: Megha Punjabi was born on 28th September 1989 in India, Asia. She has done her masters in Finance and Human resource. She has a spiritual bent of mind with a keen desire of writing poetry. Currently handling her family business of readymade garments in Lucknow, India, she also aspires to write a book.

beachfamily.jpg
Lost
by Rona Fitzgerald

Summer days she’d set out with four of us on the bus,
bag laden with cosies, sandwiches, spare clothes.

Infinite blue, sea and sky merging, no frontiers.
Bird beat, waders, oystercatchers, zen-like herons.

We stood on one leg until we fell, splashed about
ate our sand-filled lunch as mother’s nose twitched.

Trudged home across the long bridge trailing
wet wool togs and towels. Back to order.

My heart’s in those grainy dunes
keening sea birds summon me home.

PHOTO: Bull Island Sanctuary, Dublin 1960. The author is the child front left, crossed legs and shading her eye.

NOTE FROM THE AUTHOR: I wrote the poem from memory — starting with the infinity idea and the zen-like herons. Part of the prompt for me is living away from Dublin and the sea which was part of my life as a place to swim and walk. I miss the light. Normally my Dad would not be with us, my mother would haul the bags and shepherd us smaller kids to the beach.

Rona1

ABOUT THE AUTHOR: Rona Fitzgerald was born in Dublin and has been living in Glasgow for 20 years. She is the second youngest of seven children. Her work has been included in a number of magazines and anthologies, including the Dublin-based Stinging Fly, New Voices Press anthologies and The Wait poetry anthology edited by George Sandifer-Smith. Her poem “Nocturne’” was published in Scottish Book Trust publication Journeys. “Solstice” was published as part of the Mid-Winter Special on Three Drops from Cauldron webzine, and “Quest’” was published on the webzine I am not a Silent Poet. Rona is a member of the Federation of Writers (Scotland).

Image
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.

Image

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

Image
MAY DAY BECOMES YOU, IT GOES WITH YOUR HAIR
by Joan Jobe Smith

Sometimes I feel my mother is still alive, like five
minutes ago when I wanted to show her my
new silk blouse, ask her how she likes it, tell her how
I had her in mind when I picked it out because she
always liked me wearing white, said I looked so nice
and clean. (Remember how your mother liked
to keep you nice and neat?) And when I shook myself
back to Now, realized she’d been dead nearly 30 years,
I could hardly believe it, because I’d felt her so near
and real as this silk upon my skin, felt the air around me
turn as warm as the sweet of her breath when she
smiled because I looked so clean in this white blouse.
(Remember how your mother’s lips were naturally pink
as May Day azalea?) For years after she died, every day at
four o’clock in the afternoon, no matter where I was:
at work, on the freeway to L.A., a train to London or
crossing over the Golden Gate Bridge, I’d jolt a four-
o’clock horror that I’d forgotten to take her the morphine
she needed by 4:15 or she’d tremble with seizure and pain
as she lay dying upon her mattress grave. But today, May Day,
at 4:35 when she saw me white and nice in this white blouse
she didn’t hurt anyplace anymore when she reached
quick butterfly from far away and touched my cheek.

PAINTING: “The Redhead in a White Blouse” by Henri de Toulouse Lautrec (1889).

Image

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. In November 2012, Silver Birch Press published her literary profile entitled Charles Bukowski Epic Glottis: His Art & His Women (& me), available at Amazon.com. Her writing is featured in the May 2014 release LADYLAND, an antholology of writing by American women (13e note éditions, Paris).