My Mother’s Coat Easter Sunday (After Gertrude Stein)

My Mother’s Coat Easter Sunday (After Gertrude Stein)

The salmon coat was not a fish out of water but a stucco of the sun the son.

I know that my redeemer liveth steepled also as the sidewalks, refusing to take sides, isoscolesed up front, fingers not-eased into short gloves treed as white as sycamores sideways,

with fireflies to come, only this was South so lightning bugs were what would bubble soon enough as hyacinths or coffee bubbled that morning, a morning without mourning, purple, pink or even blue as new as–

Salmon an unlikely shade, only pink in the way that a marigold is not yellow, a lipsticked kiss against a cheek as wet as trumpets, as dry as the sun the son through high stained glass.

And though she knew that our redeemer liveth, and would stand at the end in a flesh that might almost be salmon-colored, she could not believe that none had died.  Even as the clouds rolled and the stone rolled and her coat leapt high as a fish above the sidewalk, my mother’s cheeks were damp.  It was not a day you could not remember in.

So that I, a child of her flesh, a child of not yet death, took her by our short gloves, to swim the concrete, to roll us through the clouds and stone, the hyacinthed coffee, and some night soon, fireflies.

Though we did not think of them just then, of how they would lighten us, of how they would electrify our warm bare darknesses.


Here’s a sort of poem for Easter, for the 4th day (I think) of this April 2015 National Poetry Month, and for the wonderful Izy Gruye’s prompt on Real Toads to write something inspired by Gertrude Stein’s Tender Buttons. 

The above is a pic of my mother’s coat. 

I have edited this a few times since posting!   

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34 Comments on “My Mother’s Coat Easter Sunday (After Gertrude Stein)”

  1. What a riot! Stein is so much fun, and so is this.

  2. Isadora Gruye Says:

    <>, wowwzers K. Where to start? I love the repetition of idea through this piece, but how one concept reappears, you’ve re-imaged it. Coffee becomes hyacinthed coffee, and so forth. You did encapsulate that mad-woman mix of whimsy and dictation that Stein uses and did so very effectively.

    That last paragraph is jaw droppingly gorgeous “electrify our warm bare darknesses.” just…..wonderful!!!!!!

    • ManicDdaily Says:

      Thanks so much, Izy–I keep going back and changing things a little–a very interesting challenge, I’m not completely happy with it, but found it all very enlightening–thanks–k.

  3. M Says:

    well, aside from the gendered pronouns, spot on… ~

  4. I like that you highlighted my favorite turn of phrases, “I know my Redeemer liveth, salmon and hyacinth.”

  5. Sherry Marr Says:

    I love this, most especially from taking your mother’s hand and all the way down to the comforting fireflies electrifying your “warm bare darknesses.” Wowzers! What a write!

  6. You got your mind well wrapped around Stein. I love what you’ve done. As Isadora said “one concept reappears, you’ve re-imaged it” and I love that plus the colors.

  7. Jim Says:

    Well k, I like your mother’s coat. In the picture did you notice that there are buttons that don’t match, one is a political button. I think that she was tuned in with Stein’s “Buttons”. The poem didn’t her buttons.
    Fireflies and lightning bugs. I think we had both in Nebraska, the lightening bugs don’t live through the cold northern winters and he fireflies die after one day in the southern heat. Dead fireflies and June bugs all over the back porch in the mornings.
    Nice reading, really made sense not a every turn.

    • ManicDdaily Says:

      Hey Jim-/ I’ve lost the buttons! They were all there when my mother wore the coat. It is very old– probably nearly fifty years. The little plastic button says “I write books.” Something my daughter found. So not actually political but it fit the button hole. Thanks.

  8. Kerry O'Connor Says:

    I felt sure that this challenge was perfect for you and you have delivered a piece that is way beyond my expectations. You include repetition and lists without ever letting it weigh the prose down, and the story remains the focal point rather than the technique. There is all the fervour of Easter, tempered with doubt and a mother’s tears, which are always the most painful for a child to witness, since she is tasked with drying our own.

    I thoroughly enjoyed your poem.

    • ManicDdaily Says:

      Thanks so much, Kerry! It was a very interesting challenge. I keep going back and changing things, as hard to tell whether changes are improvements or not, but it was a very freeing interesting style to try I thought. I thoroughly enjoyed yours too! k.

      On Sun, Apr 5, 2015 at 1:33 AM, ManicDDaily wrote:


  9. “The salmon coat was not a fish out of water but a stucco of the sun the son.” I love that line or I should say it is just one line of many I love. I felt such inadequacy with the challenge. Yours is brilliant!

    • ManicDdaily Says:

      Thanks so much, Susie. I really enjoyed yours, Laundry Goddess! I appreciate your kind words, but really I just have the kind of mind that lets go of reason quite easily! (Ha!) k.

  10. Gillena Cox Says:

    the workings of the season of Easter is magnificently sliced into you Stein-que; what can i say, yes! you suceeded in the challenge; i’m delighted in the fun mood, you happened to transfer to us

    and thanks for stopping over to read mine

    much love…

  11. You utterly rocked this! I love the way you weave and bring back lines and I really enjoy what you did with color here:

    ” only pink in the way that a marigold is not yellow”

    Excellent work, K!!

  12. othermary Says:

    I love the way you keep coming back to the salmon and sidewalk and coffee. But, do you have lightening bugs at Easter? We don’t get them here (Wisconsin) until mid-summer. But I digress, this is a really wonderful Easter poem, K.

  13. Marian Says:

    Cool. I love this: “It was not a day you could not remember in.”

  14. hedgewitch Says:

    “Salmon an unlikely shade, only pink in the way that a marigold is not yellow..” this all makes too much sense for what I saw of Stein! (That is a plus, I think. ;_) ) I do love it, with all its images sharper for being tipped with a child’s skewed glance on a craned neck, turned upside down and sideways, much as gloves are when we gesture with our hands, something more then than gloves, animate. Really great job with this challenge, k.

  15. Helen Says:

    Easter takes me way, way back to childhood and special memories of my mother ~~ as does your poem. Thank you.

  16. Damn skippy! This was marvelous. Is marvelous. Is, for the thing of it, as Gertrude might say! You wove Easter in, the blood, the stained glass… even Mom’s coat, which gets marvelous attention with the image as well as striking words. There is so much about your relationship with your mom in here, I wonder how much is so and how much is… you, the writer. I will keep reading and someday, we all may know. This take on Stein, one of the best today. Toady (what I wrote before editing! Seems apropos). Toad poems nicely woven, Easter peeps melt in balcony… Yikes, I am liking this process WAY too much! Oh – before I go, the not a day to not remember in, that whole switching of negatives, VERY Gertrude. Thanks! Amy

  17. whimsygizmo Says:

    This is just so wonderful. Oh, that first line.” The salmon coat was not a fish out of water but a stucco of the sun the son.”
    And then “steepled also as the sidewalks.”

    Just a fantastic piece.

  18. Snakypoet (Rosemary Nissen-Wade) Says:

    Oh, this is absolute heaven. I think you’re the winner of this prompt!

  19. […] A revision of a draft poem posted last year for a prompt by Izy Gruye on Real Toads, that I revised thinking of Easter and the […]

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