Friday, June 24, 2016

June 24: Mother's Birthday, Peter Balakian, "My Mother is a Fish"

Tomorrow is my mother's birthday.  I believe that she is going to be 86.  You must forgive me.  I'm not good with birth dates.  I'm lucky that I remembered the day at all.

My mother's two remaining sisters have driven up from Detroit for the occasion.  It will be the first time in two or three years that they've all been together.  My mother doesn't know hat they're coming.  I'm hoping that she remembers them.

You see, my mother's memory isn't great.  She barely remembers my sister who lives in Washington.  When my sister was visiting last year, my mother kept looking at my sister and saying to me, "Isn't she a nice lady."  However, my mother seems to able to remember things from her childhood quite well.  Sometimes, she sits at the dining room table and tells me stories of when she was a little girl.  It's as if her long term memory is intact, but her short term memory is short circuiting.   I think that the only reason she remembers me is because I see her almost every day.

So, tonight, Saint Marty is honoring his mother with a poem by Peter Balakian.

"My Mother is a Fish"

by:  Peter Balakian

My mother is a fish
and the sky is low and orange,
and the long grass rises   
in the still air.
The mud is black   
and worms turn   
their cold segments   
at my feet.

      I used to walk   
      with an old lady.
      It seemed far from water
      and the ground sank.
      Weeds were higher
      than my head.   
      Slugs slept
      in the mud.

My mother is a fish
and the sky swallows my head.   
A fine rain comes
and softens the ferns.

In March before the crocus   
and the lily,
eggs bunch in the shoal   
of green jelly.
Crabs glide through them.   
A kingfisher is dead
on a rock.

My mother is an eel   
winding a light
around the rock.   
Even without a moon   
the black glows.

The sun grows like an egg
over the bridge,
the first birds are silver
and swoop down for my mother.

      When the lady came
      we jumped—
      She took us to find worms   
      we could squeeze
      in our hands.

      I went with my father
      to the dark water.
      I went with a bucket
      of mud.
      When we doubled the worm   
      on the hook and it coiled,   
      I could hear how a bass
      could thud.

      I grabbed it
      with a wet hand,   
      and watched its eye   
      go black
      as I dropped it
      in a metal bucket.

      Hack it along the gill
      and throw the head to the gulls.

My mother is a fish
and flutters in my bucket.   
The sky is a fleck of stones   
on the night water.
Turns my arms silver.

The wind calls my father   
out to where bigger birds   
call and caw and spin,

where my father goes
and leaves me with the mud   
and gulls on the patchy water.
My mom and dad

1 comment:

  1. My goodness, there is a strong family resemblance between the Saint and his mom :-)