Tag Archives: mother

Wardrobes

Wardrobes of tailored jackets
packed tight with empty pockets
still scented with her perfume

Silver spoons and Indian brassware
tablecloths, hand embroidered
saved for a time that never came

Teapot, milk jug and sugar bowl
enwrapped with gaudy Chinese dragons
given to her by a friend

All her rings, except for
Dad’s engagement ring
which we buried her with

a huge box of jumbled photos
full of memories, undiscovered history
and her, lithe and young

Those eyebrows I see in the mirror
the laugh that is also mine
her legacy pulses within me

Copyright © 2021 Kim Whysall-Hammond

Toxic

I’m so tall, I’m so tall
Yet you raised me to be so small

As waves wash an uncaring shore
So I would wash you with my love

As they caress rocks and pebbles
I used to kiss your uncaring cheek

Waited with the patience of waves
For you to regard me

To see the woman I had become
As someone you could be proud of

That tide went out years ago
I now walk a different shore

I’m so tall, I’m so tall
Yet you raised me to be so small

Copyright © 2021 Kim Whysall-Hammond

Misquote in italics from Living on the Ceiling by Neil Arthur and Stephen Alfred Luscombe

Friday Poem: The Lanyard

The other day I was ricocheting slowly
off the blue walls of this room,
moving as if underwater from typewriter to piano,
from bookshelf to an envelope lying on the floor,
when I found myself in the L section of the dictionary
where my eyes fell upon the word lanyard.
No cookie nibbled by a French novelist
could send one into the past more suddenly—
a past where I sat at a workbench at a camp
by a deep Adirondack lake
learning how to braid long thin plastic strips
into a lanyard, a gift for my mother.
I had never seen anyone use a lanyard
or wear one, if that’s what you did with them,
but that did not keep me from crossing
strand over strand again and again
until I had made a boxy
red and white lanyard for my mother.
She gave me life and milk from her breasts,
and I gave her a lanyard.
She nursed me in many a sick room,
lifted spoons of medicine to my lips,
laid cold face-cloths on my forehead,
and then led me out into the airy light
and taught me to walk and swim,
and I, in turn, presented her with a lanyard.
Here are thousands of meals, she said,
and here is clothing and a good education.
And here is your lanyard, I replied,
which I made with a little help from a counselor.
Here is a breathing body and a beating heart,
strong legs, bones and teeth,
and two clear eyes to read the world, she whispered,
and here, I said, is the lanyard I made at camp.
And here, I wish to say to her now,
is a smaller gift—not the worn truth
that you can never repay your mother,
but the rueful admission that when she took
the two-tone lanyard from my hand,
I was as sure as a boy could be
that this useless, worthless thing I wove
out of boredom would be enough to make us even.

By Billy Collins