Sunday, April 03, 2011

Poem: "Don't Go, Sweet Mother"

Don’t Go, Sweet Mother

“Once I was the most beautiful rose in my mother’s rose garden.
But now he has plucked me, and in his hands I am wilting.”
—“Edes Anyam,” Hungarian bridal lament


Don’t go, sweet Mother,
don’t open your hands

like the spring flowers,
like the rising sun,

hands that wrung
the curtains dry,

that brushed back
my feverish curls.

When did mother mean
losing a child?

The day you planted
the first roses?

The day you taught me
to say please?

Your face is a fist
but I am not in it.


Stranger, thief,
he who owns a thousand acres,

white face, secret voice,
unreadable days,

moonless night,
spreading root—

I name him
to make him familiar.

Not husband,
the name others give.

It touches nothing
in my ears,

the fear

of being disappointing
and disappointed.


Goodbye, bent kettle,
to your morning ditty,

Old clock, goodbye,
my knowing friend,

pink tiles, evening
to the feet, goodbye,

high cot, goodbye,
goodbye, crazy quilt,

bay window, goodbye,
stop looking out for me,

girls in wool pullovers
they knitted in the fall,

boys brown in the neck
and in the arms, goodbye,

goodbye, Jack robin,
whom I will never see.


Valerie Roberts said...

I love this.

Jee Leong Koh said...

Thanks, Valerie.