A week or so ago, I sent my husband a link to my two personal essays published by Sleet Magazine. His response was merely that the first one, “Bodies,” made him sad. My self-absorbed ass wanted to hear about what a great writer I am, how my husband understands some critical, previously-unobserved part of me, how I am an old soul or some other corny shit. But no, all he said was that he was sad. This, of course, propelled me to new levels of wallowing and self-absorption. I emailed E. Jean Carroll, one of very few people I can confidently call a role model. She congratulated me on getting published and told me that she makes a point to never show her writing to family or husbands. Damn! I grew up reading E. Jean’s column in Elle, so I really would trust her with my life. For several years, her advice column was the closest thing I had to guidance, while my mother was busy working 60 hours per week and doing what mothers do – “seeing about things.” Anyways, here’s a poem for my mom. I’ll never let her read it.
For My Mother, For Father’s Day I am not half the woman my mother was Though she never wanted me to be. Mom fled across the old South From slick men and robberies Tenements and community college To a burnt-out Camaro and a basset hound Who bayed at my young sister and I Unable to express his love otherwise I never knew an eviction notice Or a too-tight school uniform Although my mother’s thin-soled sensible shoes Whispered about budgets and bounced checks Store-brand food and impending mattress springs Mom’s eerie foresight and vicious budgeting Did not account for grit I would sleep on a thousand floors To inherit her ramrod spine