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Poems for My Mother II

By Ann P. Kaiser





1. Longing






Even before I could call your name

I remember

Longing for you’

Wanting to bury my head in

Your curious, pungent smell

Of sex and sweet sun sweat


You were seductive

Pulling me toward you

Promising something unnamed


But always as I came

Eager, and sure

This time

You would welcome me

With your smell

And your hazel eyes

You moved away


I kept coming

Expecting comfort

Always surprised to find emptiness

Where you stood

You never stopped moving

You were busy

With people, and appointments


That had to be done


You could sit down

And hold me in your lap





2. Summer l956





A little girl

With short brown hair

Stands on one foot

Watching her mother

Cutting some lady’s hair

They are laughing and talking

The light is all around them


The little girl stands

In a damp shadowed corner

Afraid to step into the light

Afraid to go out into the summer sun





3. Summer l966

Talking in the Dark





Talking in the dark

11 o’clock

The new kitchen chairs smell of plastic

Nice, sweet unfamiliar smell

Your cigarette makes a red dot

In the shadowed darkness

Your familiar smell, your shape are there

But you are different in the dark


I sit in the orange chair

You stand smoking by the counter

I tell you everything

I can think of

To keep you there

Talking in the dark


Thirty-six years later

The kitchen looks old fashioned, used

Smells faintly of grease and coffee

The plastic chairs long gone

The house sold

The trees cut down


After all the years

All that passed

Between us

That last month

When you were dying

I called every night

Sitting at my desk

Leaning on my elbow,

Holding the phone against my shoulder

Tears streaming down my face

Telling you everything 


To keep you here

For one more night

Talking in the dark





4. Going Back





Going back to your funeral

Going home one last time

Walking into the church

Behind your casket

Sitting in an unfamiliar pew


I am small again

Invisible, unprotected

Afraid of everyone

I do not want to linger talking

Outside the church

I move quickly

Wordlessly into the car

Waiting for the drive to the cemetery

To begin

Not asking for or expecting comfort

Wanting it all to be over


It is too painful

Not just your death

But all the memory

That comes with it


Remembering living here

Where your shadow was solid, large


Where your understanding, your meanings

Were mine

Or there were none at all


Even in the bright February noon

I can step into your shadow

And disappear

At the cemetery

I take a red rose from your casket

Thinking I will save it

To remember

But on the way back to the car

I drop it on the ground


Later we go back to see your finished grave

I see the rose crushed into the gravel road,

The green stem split open

Then, the red balloons my sister

Tied to the marker

Break loose and float away





5. When Dying is Around Us





It is a year for dying

My mother, my dissertation advisor

The parents of my being


I should feel sadness Loss

But I am numb and quiet


When I think it about their deaths

It seems like it was time

That the cycle is complete


We are all

Moving on exactly

As planned



Death brings expectation

I am worn down

Waiting for resurrection

My eyes burn from

Watching for the pink, rose-fingered dawn


Nothing happens

One restless night merges into another

Without a dawn

Strange dreams come and come

I neither remember nor forget them

Nothing sooths Me


All at once

It is midday

I stand shadow less

In the noon sun

Watching the trees move

From an unfelt wind

From an unfelt wind

Tasting the grit in my mouth





6. Saturday Afternoon






Saturday afternoon

I am thinking about making cookies

Looking at the cookbooks

Wishing I had asked my sister

For your old red plaid

Better Homes and Gardens cookbook

With its yellow, stained pages

And dozens of newspaper recipes

Stuck in between the sections


You never cooked except from

Cookies. Cakes and Desserts

Nothing else required

A recipe

You made bread from memory

And the feel of the dough

Meat browned in the cast iron skillet

Baked until it was

Good and done


I used to be surprised looking down

At my hands and seeing yours

Now sometimes I see

More of you

Than me


There is a whoosh of gas

As I turn on the oven

The glass mixing bowls clatter

Against the granite counter top

As I mix cookie batter

I see and hear you everywhere


If you were here

You would be nosy

Asking where did I get the whole nutmeg

Why didn’t put allspice in the cookies

Telling me  not to waste butter

On greasing the baking pans

Reminding me of the story of the rich man who

Married the one poor girl who didn’t waste

Cookie dough, leaving it behind in the bowl


You would sit on the tall wooden stool

Feet hooked on the upper rung

Drinking instant coffee

Talking nonstop

I would never stop moving

While you watched me cook



Everything between us

DNA, history, the rich, right moments

The strange sad memories


In the kitchen

Saturday afternoon

Making oatmeal cookies

From memory

Always moving

While you watch





A.P.K .

 June 7, 2002



Lightning Bugs a Story By Kay Bailey

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Last Up-Date   03/17/2007 10:13:51 PM