Thursday, May 9, 2013

These Are My Mothers

of the soft hazel eyes
heavily lidded
soft cheek, soft lap

cooking, always cooking
cooking love cooking through me

Soft white hair, like an old Indian
Close buddy, sat close, me, I was three, on the table top
Sewing buttons to my pants leg, Nona toothless laughing at me
Bruta! Bruta!
Granma, what’s bruta?
She says you’re ugly.
Granma was always busy
"Nona bruta!" I yell in my baby voice.
Nona laughs so hard.

always working
Washing, cooking, washing, cooking
Food she grew, sublime food
Melted in my mouth and sent me to heaven on earth

Nona, Granma, Mama you were my first angels

Red curls glowing in the light
I give your red curls to my characters
Who knows if anyone will read them
Mama, soft Mama
Cooking with your coat on, as soon as you came home from work
Why did you go to work?
Never eat anything out of a factory or a can
Huge wheels of cheese and great loaves of crusty bread and whole fish
Carried from the North End
And pizza folded dripping with saucy hot pepper Granma grew
Mama’s eyes tear, “Oh, so good!”
Mama foraged in the vacant lots
Kids laughed at her
Bitter dandelions, good for your teeth

St. Joan
Sunshine walking beside me to school
Once I learned how to make her laugh
All that sunshine was mine
She made me so beautiful!

Miss V
Knows the stars
Can reach backwards and forwards as a river
patient as a mountain
brave, wise
eyes open and closed
in ecstasy

Grace of the Gardens
Seed, seer, child
Throwing rainbows over the lawn
Making rainbows in the sparkling water we sprayed at night over the streetlight
Raspberries by the handfuls
Ever green grass, ever soft flowers
Ever apple tree now gone

Brown rice Mother
Miso for Ground Zero
Held my hands for so long

Brown rice Mother
Part American Indian
Giver, give, give, give
Did you become your students?
As food becomes flesh?

And most of all, daughter
My child is my mother
Teacher, woman of the world
Knower, encompasses clouds

Water, air, soil, gold, quicksilver
Alchemy, fire
All the elements, and love

Make life

These are my mothers
Who are yours?

©Patricia Goodwin 2013

Patricia Goodwin is the author of When Two Women Die, about Marblehead legends and true crime and its sequel, Dreamwater, about the Salem witch trials and the vicious 11-year-old pirate Ned Low. Holy Days is her third novel, about the sexual, psychological seduction of Gloria Wisher and her subsequent transformation. Her newest poetry books are Telling Time By Apples, And Other Poems About Life On The Remnants of Olde Humphrey Farme, illustrated by the author, and Java Love: Poems of a Coffeehouse.