Walking With My Mother


Walking With My Mother

So, I have to go
right left,

she tells me–

you know, sergeants–they shout
left right–
did you ever think of that?
But I have to go–
right left–

This, after fracturing
her toe, the right-
most digit, left

To re-mind
herself, to keep right
her crabbed left step,
to keep up
right left
the forced march.

But I would like
to actually talk to her,
this short time maybe all we have
left, she murmurs–

To talk of longing–
you know how soldiers, she says–
and to talk of (right)

But I have to, she says
and right left, she says again,
for increasingly,
she must say something right–
her own words what her ears have

And, yes, I say,
though what I want is something
more, something like a blue bell
that could hold us as
a sky, roll us down
its sides together,
not need
the toll of words–
and she says, right
and I say, wait,
and she says, left
grasping her–
and right, she says
and we walk on
right left
trying somehow
to get closer.


Here’s a poem for my prompt on Repetition at dVerse Poets Pub.  I am also linking it to With Real Toads open link night.  It’s fresh off the press (my brain) more or less, so I’ll call it a draft for now, meaning that it’s still shifting around.    I am using my mother as a character in the poem–but please note that all poems have a largely fictional quality–and characters are used to some degree as archetypes. (Okay, mom?!)  

Here’s is also a reading of the poem for any interested:

Check out all the great poets at dVerse, and thanks much, as always, for your visit.  

PS = the picture does not really go with the poem, but I took it on a recent visit with my mom, and I like it.  

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62 Comments on “Walking With My Mother”

  1. brian miller Says:

    nice play throughout on the right left and working them into meaning all different things…quite emotive as well…thinking of time left…and wanting to say right things…ha, your note made me smile…maybe she will understand….smiles….

  2. Mary Says:

    Wonderful poem to your prompt, K. And the rhythm is just RIGHT too. I found myself reading faster and faster as I worked my way to the conclusion!

  3. Grace Says:

    Clever use of cadence, right left left right ~ I am reminded of the marching but its also the great play on the relationship ~ I specially like that blue bell, and that movement to being close(r) ~

  4. hedgewitch Says:

    This is quite magical enough at the beginning, with its syncopation and sense of footsteps falling as words fall, only to be obscured…but the last section is just amazing, and I love the sheer sound of it, with the interior rhymes of roll and hold and toll, and the continued right left, not to mention the soaring image of being in a bluebell that is somehow the sky. Gorgeous. The premise behind it all is solid under the fading footsteps as well–so much we need to hear, so little it seems we get to hear, or maybe that can be said. One of my favorites of yours, k, and I enjoyed hearing you read it.

    • ManicDdaily Says:

      Thanks for your kind words — I did the reading just once, and I didn’t feel I got it right–belonging especially, but just couldn’t bear to do it again somehow. You know how it is getting all the bits of posts together–you just give up at a certain point on fine details! Thanks much. k.

  5. kaykuala Says:

    Reminds me of days spent at our military college where left,right were basic to moving around even not in uniforms. You’ve someways captured that feeling. Well crafted K!


  6. janehewey Says:

    if ever a poem could sum up a relationship, this one does. it is staggering and fluid. it has form and clarity. your voice stays clever- as always. I admire how you weave beauty into the left/right rigor. this is one of my new favorites, k.

  7. This is a wonderful poem, and resonates so much – we always long for the real communications yet somehow have to make do, and make our peace with, with the deflected ones, dont we?

  8. Laurie Kolp Says:

    Oh, Karin… this touched my heart, as you know my mother is dying. “I have to go” can mean so many different things. Thanks for the wonderful prompt.

  9. The many meanings are conveyed through the repetitive use of words, left and right. I liked the tenderness of the relationship… aspiring to be together and talk of the right things, wondering about the left time, and trying to get closer to each other. Beautifully written.

  10. Such a tender poem, and great use of repetitive left right… such depth and beauty in this one. 🙂

  11. kkkkaty1 Says:

    I missed this earlier – all about caring between mother and daughter…however, I had the feeling the mother had Alzheimers or dementia, so even more difficult to reach that person…and, oh, the bluebell image!

  12. vandana Says:

    very heart touching

  13. claudia Says:

    wow…that sounded so real…i thought it was real…. so moving…the dialogue…the trying to get closer…

  14. Such a great poem about lose and coping with such. We all go though this time where our parents fade from us. You have conveyed this so very well.

  15. Thank you for sharing this, I found it very emotional. I loved listening to your voice as you read through, the dialogue was filled with frustration and love. My mother’s memory is going, she gets angry with me quickly, our communication is stilted at times, but love is the thread that still binds us.

  16. First of all the use of the different meanings of right and left is really intriguing.. very good word-pairs to use… and the poems content made me think of my own faltering mother.. all the time we have left… yes her memory falters… and walking is a pain.

  17. Brendan Says:

    The weave here is brilliant, Karin, this walk-by-the-sea which must be both present and past and by doing so is eternal, like the tide … The old conversation repeated in that way in which child and mother becomes parent-child and child-mother, the necessary reversal of age: and the march-step is the ladder of meter which the poem climbs to hold on and let go at the same time. Old history becomes the only story and then is just so much tide. Loved it, big applause.

    • ManicDdaily Says:

      Thank you so much, Brendan–I appreciate your reference to tides, although I used the picture without particularly meaning a beach walk–thanks for your very kind comment. k.

  18. Gabriella Says:

    I can picture your mother, Karin, and the rhythm of her difficult walk. “But I would like / to actually talk to her, ” – I can also feel your frustration at the lack of communication. “

  19. kelvin s.m. Says:

    I never really had quite a long walk with my mother, maybe because we are often far apart from each other (sigh), so this has actually touched me in a good way & made me feel a bit sad. Thanks for the poem Karin. Your repeated ‘left, right… right, left’ carried the emotions here. Smiles.

  20. I like this a lot, Karin. I can sense the yearning of wanting to feel closer. And even if the repetitive words she was saying were not exactly bonding, in the end the act of walking together brought you closer. Lovely 🙂

  21. Pat Hatt Says:

    Great play on the right left indeed. Each with a new twist at your feed, just a little walk and talk can sure bring on a lot

  22. Truedessa Says:

    First, thanks for a great prompt. I found this piece interesting as I pondered thoughts of left and right..as you inched closer in communication.

  23. A terrific illustration of your premise & prompt, although I felt that I became out-of-step a couple of times while reading it, a thing that happens to me when I endeavor to adhere to a cadence, but your lovely reading of the piece, cleared up my tangled feet and mind; like others I am haunted by the lines /something like a blue bell/that could hold us like a sky/ & I began to think of the flowers to prevalent in my wife’s native TX. As you know, I am a passionate proponent of reciting our work, adding depth & character to each poem.

    • ManicDdaily Says:

      Thanks, Glenn. I was also thinking of those beautiful Texas flowers! (On one level.) They are so pretty.

      I think the poem isn’t quite smooth but it’s okay for now. Thanks. k.

  24. Bryan Ens Says:

    Clever use of multiple meanings of the repeated words.

  25. The repetition of right/ left and the multiples meanings and word play is marvelous. It captures the struggle to communicate and I love the image of the blue bell/ sky. The desire to communicate with mother doesn’t end even with death.

  26. I think this photo enhances the poem…great choice.
    The walking reflects a type of urgency to get closer to your mother indicated by the rhythm and marching instructions used in the poem I loved this one.

  27. Bodhirose Says:

    I pictured a walk of you together on the beach…the photo lent itself well to my imaginings. Felt strongly the disconnect to each other (ok…not your mother) but the almost urgent feeling to find a connection. And you did well with all the different meanings of your repetitious words. Gave me an idea to write something too. Thanks, Karin…enjoyed this.

  28. Your words resonate and there is a sense of sentimentality in this piece. The repetitions were written so very well.

  29. Love the play of ‘right’ and ‘left’ are interwoven in this piece. Very cool.

  30. This is full of love and longing… the changing of places as our parents age, the desire to cling and know what we weren’t ready to ask before and now may not be understood.

  31. grapeling Says:

    Loved the reading, the wordplay, and the blue bell. Sorry I didn’t get a post on this – I wanted to, but was driving most of the weekend to see my eldest aunt – well, cousins, anyways, as she lays mostly responsive in hospice. ~

  32. Abhra Pal Says:

    Karin, Very nice – just enjoyed your recitation along with the poem. The effects of repetition has come out so well.

  33. Marian Says:

    whoosh, lovely–those stanzas in the middle just slay me, Karin. “right belonging.” very, very beautiful and thoughtful.

  34. Steve King Says:

    A wonderful commentary on finding one’s way, and more…your use of left/right moves this narrative along at a fine pace. For me, the use of left/right also builds a tension relating to divergence on the path. Having that in mind, your finally about coming together was so effective. Very fine writing. And the voice work was a nice complement to it all.
    Steve K.

  35. Kay Davies Says:

    I know that feeling, wanting to communicate with someone who has other things to think about.
    This is an excellent poem, Karin.

  36. Susan Says:

    Good. Good. (Damn) Thank God. We relive through poems and photographs. Love your pace (pun) and voice.

  37. margaret Says:

    It brings to mind the stages of dementia – the disconnect, the caring. It tugs at the heart strings

  38. dani Says:

    i love the way you wove the meanings of “right” and “left” directly into the poem and how they affect the overall feel of your words. wonderful!!

  39. What a lovely poem Karin. Truly lovely. Especially enjoyed this from the blue bell: (to) not need the toll of words… I truly believe that presence alone can make up for lost conversation. Words don’t take us to Heaven. Love does… Best wishes friend…

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