Friday, April 10, 2009
Mothers provide soft beds for us, with clean sheets,
fluffy pillows, and piles of blankets. When we fall
asleep somewhere else, they cover us with afghans
(afrikans, my stepmother pronounces it).
If it is winter, or there is a chill from a nearby window,
they choose heavier weight, that warm brown chenille piece
their mother-in-law gave them for Christmas; if April, it
is the middle weight one, hand-stitched, with birdhouses.
They are pleased to see that the family cat has covered our feet.
Braver, more confident ones will steal a kiss; timid ones,
fearing to wake us, will resist. Either way, the kissing is
Sometimes they cover us with lies, if necessary,
and with opportunities, better education, Van Gogh, music
(I hear the cottonwoods whispering above, Tammy, Tammy, Tammy's in Love)
with umbrellas, hairspray, Easter dresses.
They cover us with Bibles, whole pages, from memory. Crosses
around our necks, prayers over us all the day long and night too.
Scarves (Amanda Wingfield, Tom, take your muffler.
Will you, oh, will you? Laura, you went out, every day,
in that thin coat, courtin pnemonia? Why, Laura, Why?)
Mothers cover us with praise and worry, with furious and relieved tears.
Remember the worst day of my life, when I couldn't find you
and you were playing with Summer at the graveyard, and then you came back
and I couldn't stop shaking and crying?
When we lie uncovered, go about exposed, vulnerable,
well, they must have been busy or unaware of our potential suffering
because the hall closet is bursting with blankets of various sizes
just waiting to cover us, and our mothers' hands reach for them of their
own accord as they pass (isn't there someone who needs to be covered at this
very moment, let me do it?)
They cover us as surely as the night does, and as the promise of morning.
I get drowsy just thinking about it, and now that my mother is gone,
I have to cover myself with her blankets. It works, but not quite as well.
I can't get comfortable, thoughts slip in or out of the spaces not tucked in.
Mama, can you bring another blanket? It's a two-dog night, you used to say.