“Unsigned Mother’s Day Card” by Bayleigh Cardinal

Bayleigh Cardinal


My mother broke the silence first
as my son slid into a pair of tense gloves,
bright beneath the cold light
of the delivery room. The moon
was supposed to be bigger
on his arrival, but it was Halloween,
and even the world remembered to darken itself
for the date. Blue tinted with gray,
wet like the deep belly of the sea,
he waited. I waited
for his sound to climb into me.
The baby’s father held the quiet in his fists,
like a note or a wish. My mother said,
please cry, please cry , into the small spaces
between her fingers so I wouldn’t hear.
But I did. When the baby did
his rattling whine from the threads
of a foreign blanket, our breath
flooded the sound with rasp and relief,
then swallowed the rest of our lives.
Each thing I’d opened earlier that day
to celebrate becoming a mother—
palm-sized cards sans serif, carnation bouquets,
a door to a man holding transparent balloons
filled with confetti—
disappeared into my son’s voice
twitching like new handwriting,
unable to say what it really wanted.

Poets Respond
May 10, 2015


Bayleigh Cardinal: “People around the world are getting ready to celebrate Mother’s Day. I was thinking about the holiday, both the marketable, material thing it’s become and what it means to me personally, and wrote this poem.” (website)

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