Poetry for Procrastinators: I will Not Write a Poem About My Mother

I realize it’s a few weeks late, but I’d like to share a Mother’s Day poem.
It was read on Mother’s Day, to my Mom, and to about 25 other people.

It’s “Poetry Month” at church, in a year of appreciation for the arts in worship. As one of the Artists in Residence for this month, I was running a forum on “Unconventional Mother’s Day poems.”

So I decided to write my own. Not technically the first poem about my mother, but definitely a rarity for someone who writes a lot about family. I have several poems for, about, and inspired by my sisters, my grandmothers and aunts, even imagined mother-daughter relationships…. but only 1 or 2 just for my very own Mom.

Now, when most poets I’ve read or listened to write poems to/for/about their moms, they usually comment: “She hasn’t read this” or “I will never let her read this.”
For me, growing up with a poet for a mom, it’s a little bit of a different story.

Why I Will Not Write a Poem About My Mother

She is still alive.

She is still alive and she reads.

She is very much alive and she reads my poetry.

And she likes it.

So far.

Aunts, yes, and grandmothers are good for

 setting the scene,

drawing parallels.

Sisters, naturally… how else does a youngest girl

secure a place in their grown-up lives?

A woman must appreciate her bloodlines,

the anecdotal lives that become her past.

And my daughter, yes, I’ll get to her.

Poems for breakfast and playtime

and everywhere she tumbles into

what comes next.

But my mother? No.


My mother reads

and writes

and listens to a poem’s secret heart.

I will not tell embroidered truths to a blue-ribbon stitchery artist.

I will not refocus the lens for the portraitist in session.

I will not disguise the words I want her most to hear.

And I will not write a poem about my mother

who is part of line I’ll ever write.


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