An Anti-Hallmark Poem for Mother’s Day
I found myself unexpectedly at our local library branch up the block this Saturday with my 9 year old. (Confession: Her stack of books was due THAT day.) While my daughter browsed, it occurred to me that even this small branch might have some poetry books and I’d been meaning to get some for myself. Among the ones I took home was American’s Favorite Poems , edited by Robert Pinsky.
It has been a joy to read – reacquainting me with poems that seem like old friends and introducing me to new ones – each with a short note from the person who sent it to Pinksy explaining why it was his or her favorite.
One poem seems particularly appropriate to share as Mother’s Day approaches. It’s not flowery and sentimental. It’s real. It captures that deep yearning for alone time that mothers – or anyone who cares for others – will recognize. That yearning for “a little room for thinking” explains why so many of us ask nothing more for Mother’s Day than time for ourselves!
She wanted a little room for thinking:
but she saw diapers steaming on the line,
a doll slumped behind the door.
So she lugged a chair behind the garage
to sit out the children’s naps.
Sometimes there were things to watch –
the pinched armor of a vanished cricket,
a floating maple leaf. Other days
she stared until she was assured
when she closed her eyes
she’d see only her own vivid blood.
She had an hour, at best, before Liza appeared
pouting from the top of the stairs.
And just what was mother doing
out back with the field mice? Why.
building a palace. Later
that night when Thomas rolled over and
lurched into her, she would open her eyes
and think of the place that was hers
for an hour – where
she was nothing,
pure nothing, in the middle of the day.
~ Rita Dove