My mother asks for a poem today,
and I tell her as kindly as possible
that I’m no longer in the business
of poetry, that I have chosen the
more lucrative and well-meaning
way of flowers. Before the sun sets,
I wrap for her a raffia bundle:
delphiniums for saintliness, hydrangeas
for understanding. The petals are
tiny, so I add a single sunflower,
the symbol for loyalty. The lilies
of prosperity remain in the vase
by the door, all slender-legged
women with Greek noses, light
hair. I am sorry that there is no
poem today, mother; at least
flowers cannot conceal knives.

Happy Mother’s Day. It’s like the world’s birthday. Here’s a poem I wrote a couple of years ago for my mum. I remember she cried when she read it and I was worried she thought I didn’t love her anymore.

“you think my life’s going to get any simpler?”:

with the onset of menopause,
my mother puts everything in her life on hold.
she quits her job, thinks of teaching.
she wonders what else there is to learn.

makes us dinner, drives us to school.
we wonder where to store the sudden
overflowing of affection.

tonight she has begun to knit.
i watch from over a book as,
her tongue between her teeth,
she pulls the stitches tighter into place,
creating something i cannot recognize from here.

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