by Linda Rodriguez
It's spring, and the holiday to honor mothers is right around the corner. I lost my mother, whom I adored and with whom I had a fraught relationship, before she turned fifty, so this holiday is always difficult for me, even though that was forty years ago.
As we approach Mother's Day, the airwaves are filled with commercials for gifts for mothers and suggestions for special ways to "spoil Mom" and celebrate this May holiday. You can't escape them. So, this poem is for all those who, like me, have lost their mothers and find the day's celebrations bittersweet.
CONVERSATION WITH MY MOTHER’S PICTURE
You and Dad were entirely happy here—
you in purple miniskirt, white vest and tights
(you always wore what was already too young
for me), Dad in purple striped pants,
a Kansas State newsboy’s cap
made for a bigger man’s head.
You both held Wildcat flags and megaphones
to cheer the football team who,
like the rest of the college, despised you
middle-aged townies, arranging for their penicillin
and pregnancy tests and selling them
cameras and stereos at deep discount.
But you were happy
in this picture, before they found
oat-cells in your lungs.
After the verdict, he took you to Disneyland,
this man who married you and your five children
when I was fifteen. He took you cross-country
to visit your family, unseen
since your messy divorce.
He took you to St. Louis
and Six Flags Over Texas and to Topeka
for radiation treatments.
I don’t think he ever believed
you could die. Now he’s going
the same way. And none of us
live in that Wildcat town with the man
who earned his “Dad” the hard way
from suspicious kids and nursed
your last days. For me, this new dying
brings back yours, leaving me only this image
of you both cheering for lucky winners.
Published in Heart's Migration (Tia Chucha Press, 2009)