Sunday, May 13, 2018

May 13: Something Special, Mother's Day, "Heart to Heart"

Three years ago, I wrote the poem below for a Mother's Day church service.  I wrote it, read it that Sunday, and then forgot about it.  A couple weeks ago, I was hunting around for a poem to read at an Open Mic.  Since Mother's Day was approaching, I was looking for anything that had to do with motherhood.  I found this poem.

We are having a barbecue this afternoon with my mother.  Hamburgers, corn on the cob, watermelon.  I don't think she really knows that it's Mother's Day.  I gave her a card and flowers.  My brother brought her a Whitman sampler.  She knows there's something special happening today, and that she's a part of it.

Perhaps that's enough.  She is a woman who raised nine children.  She's outlived two of those children and her husband of over 60 years.  I remember the night when I read from my MFA thesis.  It was late April, and the Upper Peninsula was in the grips of a late spring snowstorm.  Even though she'd had two knee replacements and ankle fusion, she braved the wind and ice and snow.  Sat in the front row and smiled the entire time.  My success was her success.

She has always been Saint Marty's biggest fan.

Heart to Heart

by:  Martin Achatz

Luke says Mary kept every-
thing—angels roaring in
the night, shepherds crawling
through dung and hay, camels,
comets—all these things,
gospels and gospels, stored in
the four chambers of her heart.
I wonder if Einstein’s mother
had room enough in her
ventricles for quanta and
atoms, light’s slow passage
through the eye of the universe.
Or Darwin’s mother enough
space in her atria for
all the creatures of the Galapagos—
tortoises and iguanas, butter-
flies and cormorants.  Lincoln’s
mother died before she had
to squeeze Gettysburg and
emancipation under her ribs,
and I believe Shakespeare’s
mother departed this mortal
coil without Romeo or
the Globe nestled beneath
her breast.  My mother is
still packing things in
the attic of her chest.  Just
yesterday, she asked me if
I still write poems.  Yes, I told
Her.  I’m writing a poem
about you right now,
I said.  She nodded, looked away.
I imagined her opening a box
with my name on it, wrapping
this poem in newspaper, placing
it beside the lanyard I made
for her in third grade, closing
the box again, putting it
back on the shelf in her bosom.
When she gets to heaven,
my mother will meet Mary
on a street corner,
and they’ll unpack their
hearts.  This, mother will
say, is a poem my son wrote
for me for Mother’s Day.  Mary
will hold out her hand, show
my mother the first tooth
her son lost, a tiny grain
of enamel in her palm.  They
will find a diner to have
coffee together.  They will sit
in a booth, brag about how
their kids changed the world.

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