" SpiritofSaltSpring:BC:Canada:GulfIslands:SaltSpring:Salt Spring:

November 07, 2007


I wrote this poem for my mother 7 years ago and it felt right as she gets more ill to type it out again here - making the connection from my head to my heart.

I can see your love for me
in the dresses
you make now
for the dolls I carried
when I was a child.

I can see your way of
hoping I will carry you with me
when you are gone.

A simple act
invisible hug
reminding me of all the love
you tried to show
not the words I desperately
wished you could say
acts of kindess
offered as required
for all those times when I was sick
when I was sad, and tired.

Your white head bends forward
crooked fingers pushing straight cloth
feeding the shiny needle of a Singer sewing machine.

Alone in the spare bedroom
not even noticing the noise of
Hockey Night in Canada
ricocheting off the hall walls

Dad watches Gretzky retire
while the whirr of your womanly machine
drowns out the Zamboni between
the second and third periods.

Absorbed in your own documentary
scenes from the 76 years of your life

memories recovered
armholes created
one stitch at a time

love's light reclaimed
pin pricks of a hemline.

A tiny dress
and you shrinking more fragile
and vulnerable

trading me places
the way you needed me to be
when I carred those dolls
right before, I too, went to sleep.

We won't bother waiting for the speeches
"Women of my generation don't get to retire," you say
Precisley why I would choose that sentence as the first line
in a memorial I may not ever get around to offering
on your behalf.

Such thoughts wash across the
baby pink cloth
and I turn my head
as if distracted by the hands
of a silent clock -
the moment it takes two strangers to nod,
a sinking prediction
about how quickly you'll be gone.

For now we pretend
there's lots of time

You carry on measuring
finished garments against my
plastic children
maneuvering their stiff, artificial limbs
smiling with satisfaction
at your good job.

I like to think you might have smiled at me
in that same way
when I was a child
Sunday mornings after my bath
Scrubbed combed obedient and clean
pointy black patent shoes
huring the shortbread soles of my feet.

Did you assess me then
your creation as well
and feel just a tiny bit of victory
helping you to endure the losing battle
of begging him to join us behind those
sombre Presbyterian walls?

It scares me to know
you are clearing and sorting
preparing to leave the only reality we have,
imagining the new worlds
being fabricated for you.

Tailoring a departure
you hope won't evoke complaint.
Intent that I,
the daughter most foreign to you,
will have something to hold to me
show me how you cared
remind me that you loved me
in the only ways you could
long before I questioned all the ways you couldn't.

Doll 1: Baby
Doll 2: Chatty Cathy
Doll 3: Regal princess
her long, silver-white hair
and newly fashioned polka-dotted shoes
bought by you at an Arizona thrift sale.

Strangers barely noticing
just another senior citizen
wanding alongside a highway of tables

snowbird vultures in a foreign desert
searching for deals

But, oh, so much more;
the finale of life statements,
personal treasure hunts
and this one ending
in what might prove to be
the most important find in our lifetimes.

Those tiny, white, cotton, polka-dotted shoes
helping me to forgive
letting me understand
walking away from anger
into the arms of this single, caring act
embodying why you are
without any more doubts
the title you have worn for so long --


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