Poetry Dispatch No.233 | May 9, 2008
Sanchez, Giovanni, Moore: REMEMBERING MOTHER #1
Looking ahead toward Mother’s Day this Sunday, all the poems below can be found in a single volume, TANGLED VINES: A Collection of MOTHER & DAUGHTER POEMS, edited by the most remarkable poet, Lyn Lifshin.
It was published by Beacon Press (hardcover and paper) in 1978 and includes as well poems by Lyn Lifshin, Sharon Olds, Linda Pastan, Sylvia Path, Anne Sexton, Liv Ullman, Diane Wakoski, and others. Quite a collection…an accounting…and as Lyn says in her introduction: “—the joys, the guilt, the anguish, the fears. It is meant to be a celebration of this relationship.” Norbert Blei
summer words of a sistuh addict by Sonia Sanchez
the first day i shot dope
was on a Sunday.
i had just
come home from church
got mad at my
motha cuz she got mad at me. u
went out. shot up
behind a feelen gainst her.
it felt good.
gooder than dooing it. yeah.
it was nice.
i did it. uh. huh. i did it. uh. huh. i
want to do it again, it felt so gooooood.
and as the sistuh sits in her silent/
remembered/high someone leans for
ward gently asks her:
sistuh. did u finally
learn how to hold
and the music of the day
drifts in the
room to mingle with the sistuh’s
and we all sing.
from: WE a BaddDDD People, Broadside Press
Mothers by Nikki Giovanni
the last time i was home
to see my mother we kissed
and unpleasantries pulled a warm
comforting silence around
us and read separate books
i remember the first time
i consciously saw her
we were living in a three room
apartment on burns avenue
mommy always sat in the dark
i don’t know how i knew that but she did
that night i stumbled into the kitchen
maybe because i’ve always been
a night person or perhaps because i had
she was sitting on a chair
the room was bathed in moonlight
those thousands of panes landlords who
to people with children were prone to put
she may have been smoking but maybe
her hair was three-quarters her height
which made me a strong believer in the
and very black
i’m sure i just hung there by the door i
remember thinking: what a beautiful lady
she was deliberately wailing
perhaps for my father to come home
from his night job or maybe for a dream
that had promise to come by
“come here” she said “I’ll teach you
I see the moon
the moon sees me
god bless the moon
and god bless me”
I taught it to my son
who recited it for her
just to say we must learn
to bear the pleasures
as we have borne the pains.
from MY HOUSE, William Morrow & Co., 1972
Mourning Pictures by Honor Moore
Ladies and gentlemen, my mother is dying.
You say “Everyone’s mother dies.”
I bow to you, smile. Ladies, gentlemen,
my mother is dying. She has cancer.
You say “Many people die of cancer.”
I scratch my head. Gentle ladies, gentle
men, my mother has cancer, and, short of
some miracle, will die. You say “This has
happened many times before.” You say “Death
is something which repeats itself.” I bow.
Ladies and gentlemen, my mother has cancer
all through her. She will die unless there’s a
miracle. You shrug. You gave up religion
years ago. Marxism too. You don’t believe
in anything. I step forward. My mother
is dying. I don’t believe in miracles.
Ladies and gentlemen, one last time:
My mother’s dying. I haven’t got another.
from MOURNING PICTURES, 1975 published by The New Women’s Theater: Ten Plays by Contemporary Women