Mother

Jan 24, 2020

Today’s poem is “Mother” by Sally Bliumis Dunn. Her poems have appeared in Paris Review, Plume, Prairie Schooner, The Academy of American Poets' Poem-a-day, and The Writer's Almanac.  She’s the author of three collections of poems, most recently Echolocation (Plume Editions, MadHat Press).

She writes, “My mom passed away in March of 2017 at the age of 93. I visited her at least a couple times a week. She had very deep dementia. She always knew who I was, but spent most of our visits in a kind of drowsy state. I guess this poem is about treasuring any glimpse, any little stirrings that were indicative of her former self.”

Mother 
by Sally Bliumis Dunn

Little stirrings
in the dried fallen leaves along the path,
as when I speak to my old mother, and her eyes 
widen for a moment then close.

She sits in her chair,
tweed jacket, well-coifed, 
looking as she did in her day,

though now someone else must dress her,
lift the blouse from the hanger, 
help her put it on,

the way she once did
for me. Grab the cuff, she’d say.
The soft tunnel of sleeve
would hold me.

Sometimes we sing.
She only vaguely mouths the words
though occasionally she'll drift
along on a note like a leaf lifted by the wind 

before it stills. 
If I sit by her on the couch
she’ll put her head near mine,
my hand in hers.

Her body is how
she remembers now, 
the way the growth of a tree, 
the twists of the branches recall 
the rain, the snow, the sun. 

Poem copyright ©2018 Sally Bliumis-Dunn. Reprinted from Echolocation, Plume Editions/MadHat Press, 2018, by permission of Sally Bliumis-Dunn.