What I Learned From My Mother
I learned from my mother how to love
the moment, to have plenty of paper on hand
in case you have to rush to a birthday party
with cards and gift wrap from the closet, scissors
and pens also. I learned to save books
old enough to hold stories for the next
generation of children, to carve apple slices
from the inside out, to slice through crimson crisp skins
and flick out the pulpy bruises with a knife point.
I learned to invite company even if I didn’t know
the menu, to pass around the moist excess
of the lotion, to dispense tic-tacs up the pew
silently, passing as the peace a minty-fresh eucharist.
I learned that memories we save mean everything,
what anyone will remember is what we write.
I learned to believe I had the power to ease
hot fevered wounds tangibly like a cool cloth angel.
Like a Salvation Army shopper, I learned to create
from familiar suffering a repurposed self, and once
you know how to do this, you can never refuse.
To every child you mothered, you must offer
healing: a blueberry cobbler you baked yourself,
the blessing of your voice, your calm touch.