THIS POEM IS FOR MY MOTHER
This is a poem for my mother. She gave it to me in ball point
notes tucked into an envelope marked “the wedding.” This is
a poem about a girl with green eyes in a linen and lace dress,
carrying a parasol, pressing button top shoes into coal town
ground, and red rose petals my mother strew at her feet.
This poem is for my mother, in a tizzy and woozy with this girl
with green eyes on her wedding day marrying a lanky man
who might have been called handsome with a different nose.
This poem is about a storybook beauty, protected from work,
who learned to clean on her wedding day when the groom
put a broom in her hands, made her sweep coins tossed
with twigs and dirt onto the wood-planked dancehall floor.
My mother asked me to write this poem. It is for her. It is for
a girl with green eyes carrying a bouquet of homegrown roses,
saved from a calendar page my mother clipped and tacked
to her bedroom wall. My mother says she will never forget her
eyes like she will never forget her own mother’s long brown hair.
—from Rattle #20, Winter 2003