Sunday, September 22, 2013

What I save

It occurs to me I frame photos
of their childhood for the same reason 
my mother framed 
so many photos of her children’s parties,  
dances, roller rinks, the poses around
the Christmas tree: 
Not so she’d remember us that way but 
so wed remember us that way.  
Look, she shrieks when I blame 
her prickly temper for too much 
that’s wrong with me, 
See how happy you were. 
Your 8th birthday. So many gifts! 
The photos give me little clearings 
of pleasure in the woods of
my wearisome family ties. 
And now my children rebuke me for 
shortcomings as their mother which
worries me--do my failures cast 
too great a shadow on their childhood?
So from my album of ruddy flashbacks, 
I select the photos that remind them of their
three separate trips to Disneyland
To prove how very happy they have always been.


My mother writes me short notes and mails them 
even when we live in the same town. 

Ellie, Once I loved you with all my heart. Then you grew up and we went our separate ways. 
Read this interesting article about wrinkles. You have good skin. 
Use Ponds. Love, your mother.

Sometimes she asks, Did you get my note?
I reply, Yes, I did, thank you. 
She waits for me to say more but I never do. 
Now, 15 years since the last note arrived 
in my mailbox, I frame one or two and when 
I pass them on the bookshelf, 
I stand awhile and think of many things 
I might have said.