Calendar for October: happy birthday to my mom

even though i didn’t write this poem, it conveys what i feel in my heart:

there are times in life when one does the right thing
the thing one will not regret,
when the child wakes crying “mama,” late
as you are about to close your book and sleep
and she will not be comforted back to her crib,
she points you out of her room, into yours,
you tell her, “I was just reading here in bed,”
she says, “read a book,” you explain it’s not a children’s book
but you sit with her anyway, she lays her head on your breast,
one-handed, you hold your small book, silently read,
resting it on the bed to turn pages
and she, thumb in mouth, closes her eyes, drifts,
not asleep — when you look down at her, her lids open,
and once you try to carry her back
but she cries, so you return to your bed again and book,
and the way a warmer air will replace a cooler with a slight
shift of wind, or swimming, entering a mild current, you
enter this pleasure, the quiet book, your daughter in your lap,
an articulate person now, able to converse, yet still
her cry is for you, her comfort in you,
it is your breast she lays her head upon,
you are lovers, asking nothing but this bodily presence.
She hovers between sleep, you read your book,
you give yourself this hour, sweet and quiet beyond flowers
beyond lilies of the valley and lilacs even, the smell of her breath,
the warm damp between her head and your breast. Past midnight
she blinks her eyes, wiggles toward a familiar position,
utters one word, “sleeping.” You carry her swiftly into her crib,
cover her, close the door halfway, and it is this sense of rightness,
that something has been healed, something
you will never know, will never have to know.

by Ellen Bass, 1985 from Our Stunning Harvest

5 Replies to “Calendar for October: happy birthday to my mom”

  1. I left you a message last night (I guess Blogger ate it) telling you that I have borrowed (stolen) this lovely tribute to your mother as a tribute to my mother. I posted it on my jelly blog.

    I hope your mother had a great birthday. My mother’s was on the 15th of October. I wish she was still here to celebrate. I hope she is celebrating somewhere. Four of my five boys have birthdays in October so we do a lot of celebrating….

  2. ALso, thank you for the nice comments, the invitation, and the poem!

  3. pepek, would you like to have the calendar with October 15th circled instead of Oct.22? I think I still have the original file in layers, so it would be fairly easy to do. Let me know…

  4. What a beautiful gift for your mother. I’m glad to be introduced to this poem, thank you.

Comments are closed.