Sunday, October 30, 2005

FLAWED

The following poem is one I wrote this morning after reading the poem by the same title in Ted Kooser's current column (the one mentioned yesterday - see LINKS). It is often so hard to be honest about our mothers, and often, I think, to be honest about our children. So much of family life involves coming to terms with our own imperfections and those of the ones we love best.

In my mother’s house
-after Gloria g. Murray

there’s the smell of too many cats,
wallpaper in the bathroom half-peeled,
ivy on the sill not quite dead, but almost.
There are too many pictures on the wall
and not enough ones of my brother,
or so he says. There are stacks
of bills and letters on the kitchen table,
patterns and fabric on the dining room one,
but when we come together to share a meal
they are both cleared and decked with seasonal cloths,
forks and spoons in their places, salt and pepper
shakers in easy reach. Everyone asks,
what happened to your stacks? My mother
laughs but doesn’t answer. In my mother’s house
there are things we want to say but don’t,
there are things we hear but wish we hadn’t.
But when we’re all together in my mother’s house
we smile and shutters click, later glue photos
down in albums, crop out the parts we don’t like.

-Irene Latham

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