Posted tagged ‘How we are wounded’

How Things Sort Out

August 2, 2014

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How Things Sort Out

My mother looks up at me
from the crook of arm and comforter
and I say, “rest,” and she says, “sometimes,
when I’m lying down, I just can’t help thinking of–”
and I expect her to unspool
some much-wound thread of how
it all turned out okay
in the end, but instead, she says,
“my second grade teacher–”

The comforter is speckled with pink flowers; a stain, I notice, floats just
at the level of chest, a small maroon half-moon,
from who knows when, years–

“the Slapping Machine… and that
poor boy–”

I’ve heard of this teacher before, Mrs. White,
who made the kids memorize bible verses and
slapped them when they did not,
slapped them, it seems, for just about anything–

I’ve heard of the poor boy too, the one who was always
late, and for some reason
was particularly slapped,
especially when he cried,
my mother wanting to shout at
the teacher,
don’t you know he’s crying because his dad’s died,
killed himself when he lost
the family’s farm–

My mother wanting to shout
until the teacher slapped her too,
then made her hold a mirror as she cried,
all afternoon,
so she could see
how ugly she was, tear-marked–

My mother is 91 now
and much of what she once remembered
is clouded, and all the different things she always believed anyhow,
she now proclaims that she read in The New York Times,
though the stories she likes most are her own,
angled with self-promotion, self-
defense–

Which can sometimes be kind of irritating; not that we always
butt heads,
but it is hard
to support someone who is busy
propping up themselves, the space filled
with elbows–

Me too liking to self-justify, and how is it that
we carry these mirrors
always–

“Try not to think about it,” I tell her, again patting
the lid of comforter, its sprawl
of small pink flowers over
her folded arms, her own hand now over
one cheek–

 

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This is very much of a draft sort of poem, but I’m busy enough to know that if I keep working on it, I’ll just despair and never put anything up!  So, I’m posting just for me essentially and thanks for your indulgence.