Mother’s Day

by janeeatonhamilton

For those of us without mothers, for the mothers who no longer have children, loss presses against us: Mother’s Day.  It opens our hearts to absence.  I go to a friend’s garden and carry home armfuls of lilacs and remember the lilac shrub just beyond my childhood back porch where my mother and I gathered scent, but while I hammer the stems so they’ll draw more water, the sucked-out place inside me quivers.

The year my mother died, I wrote a story about another mother and daughter, ‘The Lost Boy,”  which won my first CBC Literary Award.   It was about my auntie’s childhood in the internment camps, and her fraught relationship with her mother, but it was also about my mother and how much in love with her I was after she died, and how this love threw me back into my childhood when I loved her simply and uncritically, when she swirled over my life as gorgeously as a van Gogh sky.

Here is a poem I wrote to my mama during NaPoMo:

 

Poem to Something Inanimate

Jane Eaton Hamilton

 

Even though she was my mother

and I begged her to get up

she did not climb from the casket

 

Let’s get the fuck outa here, I whispered

They don’t need to know.

Let’s hit the rails. Blow this pop-stand.

 

Georgia, I said, Tennessee, Colorado, California

Or hell—l’ve got the dough you left me

Let’s blow it on Paris

 

Like she hadn’t squeaked across the floor in nursing shoes

rubbed life into new kittens

helped me hammer holes into canning jars

 

Like she hadn’t pulled foals into soft midnight light

like she hadn’t kissed me up and down my face

till I squirmed