Posted: May 9, 2014 in Poetry, Uncategorized
Tags: , , , ,

Mom and Me 1948
Me and my Mom, Charleston, S.C., 1948


I never wrote a poem
about my mother,
even though dozens about dad
flowed from pens filled
with ink blood red.
After all, he planted the seeds
of fear and hopelessness, deep
strong roots grown in furrows
slashed into pliant flesh
by belts stinging,
quick backhands,
cutting words, while
mom protested in silence,
condoning the conditioning years
later saying —
“But afterwards he always cried.”

I never wrote a poem for my mother,
though I love her and think fondly
of the bond we formed in later years.
What was there to write?
I tried to protect her once.
I was nine and my Dad, drunk again,
had raised his hand one too many times
and, as he stumbled from the house,
my mom damning him to the fiery pit,
I chased him down the steps,
swatting his back with the brush
end of a broom;
trying to sweep him from our lives,
I suppose, though he’s here still
long after buried in a veteran’s grave.

I never wrote a poem about my mother,
she kept us together, somehow,
through all those years,
For what I never understood.
I relished the times I was farmed
out to uncles, aunts and my
Nan Nan’s strong, protecting arms.

I never wrote a poem about my mother
who never told me what to be,
just follow the rules
as muddled as they are,
“Stay out of trouble, David
or you’ll anger you father.”
He was so quick to anger,
haunted by war ghosts
and failures too numerous to name;
a dozen jobs, a dozen homes,
a dozen shattered promises.
I stood with her often on the welfare lines,
bringing home the state dole of
oily peanut butter in gallon cans,
powdered milk, cornmeal
and the white beans that gagged me
every time.

I never wrote a poem for my mother,
though she saved me once by moving us
to another county when
the streets beckoned and threatened
to steal the soul of her oldest son.
She never said why we moved
and I always assumed it was to hide
from the collection agents who came
round to our door as often
as the milkman and the mail.

I never wrote a poem to my mother,
who behind the scenes later
cut the strings, let me
find my own way, any way
that was better than
the stifling daily struggle
she suffered alone with seven
children and failing health.

I never wrote a poem about my mother
who stoically now in her Golden Years,
a widow, children grown, has finally
allowed herself to live her own life,
with no regrets, no sighs of could-have-beens,
but says, “That’s just the way things were
and I did the best I could.”

I never wrote a poem for my mother
who never taught me to hug,
or love, but managed still
to make sure we always had food
and clothes and a bed,
where in dreams I escaped
the dread of the Dad-filled days
until I was strong enough to run.

I never wrote a poem for my mother
and still I wonder why?

By David Allen
The first of several poems for Mothers’ Day weekend

  1. Reblogged this on Type Dancing and commented:

    A Mothers’ Day Poem


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