Lilies on mantle2_5.9.16

It’s the morning after Mother’s Day. Another rainy one. And all the mothers are back to running around taking care of kids, jobs and Monday chores.

This seems like a good day to post my poem Middle Aged Mother at 5 a.m., which was picked up by the online journal Mothers Always Write.

This poem’s all about this kind of morning after.

Here’s the full poem, if you don’t feel like clicking:

 

Middle-Aged Mother at 5 a.m.

Seven-dollar lilies from the sale bin open
on the mantle, in the blown-glass vase

I got cheap. Next to them, a candle flame alters
the air. The 5 o’clock flight to New York

thunders gently. This is my territory.
The moment spreads its petals.

I painted this room myself, yellow
with white trim, white as the lights

on the mantle, lights that will burn
themselves out. I’ll use a coupon

to get new ones, little light after light after light,
just enough to punctuate the room, lift it

the way a mother pulls up a child’s sock.
I’m turning myself inside out, swimming

in the hum of the dishwasher, the tick
of the washing machine, the rumble

then silence of the furnace, this hour
that lulls everything into something

my body wants but my eyes fight back.
On the mantle, a framed picture,

a child’s pastel drawing of a tree house
that never got built. My son asked for it,

an escape, a lookout, but that wish
turned to chalk. See the rope ladder?

It barely touches the ground.
See the lilies, still opening?

Their petals will become transparent soon.
They will ooze the last of their sweetness,

their whiteness will brown the way bread
turns to toast, and their pollen

will dust the white paint of the mantle,
garish, orange as saffron.