Letter to Mother (after Richard Blanco)

ImageI’ve been writing this since I was six,
when I first realized that you would put on
your coat and leave me forever. No matter
how many times you’d tell me you’d be back
at lunchtime, I didn’t believe you. I’d cry
until, my breath ragged, the sobs
would stop and I’d watch Grandmother draw
pictures for me, in  particularI remember
the wolf’s head she made to take my mind
off itching when I had measles.
You brought home my first pair of sunglasses
because it was bad for my eyes to look into bright light.

I’ve been writing this since Uncle brought back
all the wrapped Christmas presents because
of a feud in the family over money.
I cried and you put your arm around me––
the first time I remember you doing that. Usually
your hugs were reserved for Daddy whenever he
was around.

I’ve been writing this since

the neighbor next door had me
search for playing cards in his crotch,
since my uncle said, “just call me Jerry,
not Uncle Jerry,” when he drove
me home from a bar,

I’ve been writing this since I went away to school

and came home in tears because at seventeen,
I was too young to work in an airport or more than
500 miles from home. I pictured all the train depots
like ours, dark with dusty floors, and long hard benches.
The only good part of the train depot
was the vending machine of chicklets chewing gum,
two to a cellophane package––I liked cinnamon.

I’ve been writing this since you took your last breath,
the one you didn’t let out of your mouth. I waited
but you were gone to your version of the hereafter.

Seven years later, cancer would visit my door and
I remembered how you ignored yours until
you couldn’t deny it any longer. I found positive
ways to greet my treatments to keep from fear:
Michael’s ice cream on the way home and watching
the trees become a calliope of color.

I’ve been writing this since my son stopped breathing
ten and a half years ago. I‘ve been writing this since
promises were forgotten in the lost sanctity
of saints with their garments hanging ragged
and soiled from hooks in the closet.

I got up this morning and realized I have become an old lady,
something you never were able to do. I want to be as calm
and accepting as you were of the aging process.
I have come a long way since that first fear you
would leave me forever, but you finally did, didn’t you?

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Published in: Uncategorized on August 9, 2013 at 2:41 pm  Leave a Comment  

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