My Mother and Me

Mother sits on my bed
--Ice floes pass--
the black gaps between us.
I am so young and already so isolated.
Because I can add numbers by age three--"my prodigy"-- as she calls it,
keeps me away from the one person I most want to be near.

Her gray hair escapes the orderly coif she began the day with,
and I just stare.
She puts her exhausted hand on my forehead with fear, some fear,
we are able to touch but never to connect.
She would, for odd comfort, after the late shift, hold me in her arms.

After a time she would fall asleep on the second single mattress in my room,
singing a little song in spanish
She sang herself to sleep,
walking down a green road on the Island,
modulating as she always did to a minor key.

Her voice a tremulous, imperfect thing,
trapped now in my own ears forever: Mother, you left me so soon.

She sleeps to dream of her beloved Cuba
(Please Stay. Don't go away!) I beg her.

Close up I study the movement of her eyeball under the swollen lid,
watch her lower lip tremble. Her lips dry and cracked.

All through the night, she jabbers her numbers.
The remainders of her work day. All night I record them in a book.
No rest poor thing. No respite.

She wakes up several times in the night
In her shroud, her pale rosary lighting the way.

"Isn't she too young to add numbers?" It comes back to her in baffled half sleep.

"Isn't she too young? Isn't she?"

She doesn't know the half of it.
The things I'm too young for. Years later she talks across the abyss of death

What can she say to save me? she wonders. She talks across the abyss.

"My daughter," she sputters, "why did they take her away from me?"


Poetry by Ashe
Read 389 times
Written on 2017-11-17 at 15:05

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Jamsbo Rockda The PoetBay support member heart!
It must have been hard to write this. I can only write of growing up in flashes and snippets. Maybe I have blocked out a lot. My mother was similar, distant but close, overcome with worries. This is a wonderful piece my dear friend.

Lawrence Beck The PoetBay support member heart!
This poem is one of those that I consider to be "the marrow of Ashe." Like the others, it is sad, beautiful, and earthquake powerful.

a mother's love, very beautiful

Damn, best poem i've read in a while

I had tears in my eyes when I finished reading the poem. This poem is a poignant reminder of the passing of time, the aging of your beloved mother, and the words she sputtered till the end. Utterly moving and tenderly crafted, I love it so very much.


I agree with the others, Ashe; It is a sad poem
but well done. Some of us have it real hard.

one trick pony The PoetBay support member heart!
Though the subject isn't joyful, it is joyful to read these words, the depth and honesty and poignancy is that strong, the bond so tenuous and uncertain and fragile.

ken d williams The PoetBay support member heart!
Bravo! Reminds me of my father sining songs, when I were a little child. He too waer a stanger in a strange land for he.

Occasionally, a poem is so heartfelt and so well-executed that any comment, even praise, seems an impertinence. But I would praise, and praise generously.