Order in My Mother's House

My mother is a poet. She self-published her first book of poetry just a few years ago when she was 68. She is published from time to time in the Castine Patriot in Castine, Maine, and the Christian Science Monitor. 

As she's gotten older, she's become more and more single minded. "I just want to finish some more poems," she'll say. "That's all that matters." She is working on her "tract" about the mindless waste of war. And just this past weekend told us about a new idea she has: more poems about family and raising children; "Poems born and raised at home." She is getting very forgetful these days, and struggles with a "gammy leg." But everyone in her small town knows who she is because of the poems:

The guy who came to pave her driveway got one. When he was finished with the balck top, she handed him a crisp white page with her "thanksgiving" poem on it.

The innkeeper at the Manor Lodge on the hill proudly showed us the "winter" poem mom had given her when she brought us our breakfast the second morning of our visit. She keeps it tacked to the wall in her office.

My mom's big social outing of every day is her trip to the post office. So, of course the postmaster got the "Christmas Poem" recently, probably for the third or fourth time. 

Over the past fifteen years, I've gotten a steady rotation of the same twelve poems in the mail from my mother. Some are hers, and some are the poems that she wishes she had written. Poems that William Stafford, or Mary Oliver or Adrienne Rich "must have snuck into her den and stolen."
I am re-framing my pictures of my mother. Literally and figuratively. We are transitioning in to a new set of conversations. Not easy ones. But picturing her as the town's pied poet takes some of the angst out of those conversations. She is quirky, and stubborn, but she is doing what she loves. Now I just laugh when I think of her at the grocery store asking the goth/pierced/tattooed clerk if she's given her the poem about her mother yet.

Order in My Mother's House

Each time I visited she took me on the tour
around her house naming her treasures
and their origins as if they were close
friends; Seth Thomas clock,
brass candlesticks, a walnut table
with square legs, two Queen Anne chairs,
thirteen plates (Italian,)
grandmother's desk.

I scarcely played them well
those scenes recording order
in my mother's house;
polite but inwardly impatient
with reviewing histories
of the need for being needed.

Alone at eighty-three
she set her table for two
people once a day
walked out a mile
renewed her kindnesses
by letters, phone calls,
visits from the family.

Here in these rooms without
that voice and touch
I dust the objects
of her closeness;
clock, the plates,
old desk, feeling at last
the continuity 
she understood

yearning to hear her say,
"Before you leave, there's
one more thing I want
to show you dear..."

The tears fall
out of order in her house.


Darren Stone


Music in the HOUSE!
    posted 2020-07-15

    posted 2019-07-10

    posted 2019-04-29

I Love the Dentist
    posted 2018-11-06

Balloon Girl
    posted 2018-10-08

West Coast Journal
    posted 2017-10-24

Home Stretch
    posted 2017-06-07

Hashtag Kitchen
    posted 2017-03-09

This very old house
    posted 2016-12-13

The Big Move
    posted 2016-12-01

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