Happy Poetry Friday and Happy Mother’s Day. I have the pleasure today of featuring a rich and varied collection of poems from Michelle Heidenrich Barnes’ The Best of Today’s Little Ditty 2016, Poems for Our Mothers. This is Michelle’s second poetry anthology, that includes poems that were submitted for her Ditty of the Month Club poetry challenge featured on her blog, Today’s Little Ditty. For nine months out of the year she offered a Spotlight ON … and interviewed a poet, author, or editor, and then they would present a ditty challenge for all to write on and submit. In this second anthology, the Spotlight ON … interviews included Douglas Florian, David L. Harrison, Amy Ludwig VanDerwater, Marilyn Singer, Laura Shovan, Diana Murray, Jane Yolen, Kenn Nesbitt, and Ann Rider. Michelle’s book hosts a collection of 75 poems by 50 different poets, and in addition she’s included some of her favorite poetry websites and resources–an inspiring book you’ll want to return to again and again! The delightful cover and interior drawings are by Teresa Robeson.
In October of 2016 Kenn Nesbitt challenged us to write about Poems for Our Mothers.
Write it for your mother and give it to her. It an be any kind of poem you like, as long as it’s especially for her. ~Kenn Nesbitt
I’ve selected five of the poems from this section to share with you today, and along with the poem, the poets have included a bit of backstory on their particular poem.
If I was to paint a Norman Rockwell-style portrait of my childhood, it would be set in our cozy kitchen, my mother at the table composing her weekly lists. Mom has always been a list-maker. She handed that trait down to me, along with the propensity to become distracted and start doodling in the margins. Where we differ, is that my mother doodled words, not pictures—the names of people she loved, most of all. It seems funny that those insignificant scribbles should have made such an impression, yet seeing my name there along with my father’s and brother’s assured me I would always be safe and secure in her heart.
~Michelle Heidenrich Barnes
HISTORY OF YOUR VOICE
for my mother~Mother’s Day 2011
this little piggy stayed home
for so long we were
together all the time
together all alone
together all among
open the doors and see all the people
four gray geese in a flock
for so long you listened to every word I
began to say
forgot to say
dared to say
wire briar limber lock
we parted disintegrated
apple seed and apple thorn
for so long now we are
picking up threads
sit and sing by a spring
there were two old Indians crossing the Mississippi
ripping a seam here and there
putting right sides together
stitching farther rivers
would you like to hear the rest?
© 2016 Heidi Mordhorst. All rights reserved.
This poem turns on the finger-plays and story telling of my early years. The toe-tugging of “This Little Piggy,” the finger-folding of “Wire, Briar, Limber, Lock” and, importantly for a minister’s wife and daughter, “Here is the Church”—they were all repeated so often that when I think of them I hear the words spoken in my mother’s voice.
Lila Zingerline Mordhorst was also an accomplished seamstress, and as well as making most of her own and my clothes, she taught me to sew.
Now that we are both older Indians, “our blankets all covered with frost and snow” (I know not the provenance of that foolish, repeating story), we do spend time rewinding those old threads and restitching loose or crooked seams. We do it all with our voices.
gone from me too soon.
It’s hard to catch a glimpse of you
in my mind’s eye–
your face blurring,
then disappearing with the years.
My brothers tell me,
You laugh just like Mom.
Who does she dress like?
and, If she isn’t the spittin’ image …
as they elbow each other
in shadowed corners.
On the telephone I always get,
You sound just like your mother.
Do people honestly think
it doesn’t bother me to hear that?
The trouble is, they aren’t thinking.
When I sobbingly question my father
about his now sidelong glances,
he admits, I find it difficult
to look you full in the face.
I run for my room.
sees her in me.
Maybe it’s the only way
I have of truly seeing her.
© 2016 B.J. Lee. All rights reserved.
This poem is autobiographical. My beautiful mother passed away from a cerebral hemorrhage when I was 17 and she was 36 years old, leaving behind four children, the youngest of whom was just six. This poem captures the years after her passing and reflects a realization I came to at a tender age. My mother had been an artist, painting mostly still lifes and ocean scenes, and I often heard this phrase from those who knew her well, “Everybody loves your mother.” I miss you, Mom.
warm as a gust of summer air,
soak up my fears
like a sponge,
leaving me brave enough to fling myself
into this glorious,
yet unkind world.
© 2016 Charles Waters. All rights reserved.
When I was a wee one my mother would sometimes envelop me in hugs and kisses telling me how much she loved me. Looking back on those special times, a poem came forth.
Being a mom is no easy task, and there’s not a book, or anything else that can prepare you for it, except being there. My mom throughout my childhood filled this role of being there–with love, hope, encouragement, and pride for all her children. This poem comes from an actual event–the outcome for me, small gestures of giving can make a big impact for a lifetime.
Wishing all a Happy Mother’s Day!
Jama Rattigan, the hostess of the mostest at Jama’s Alphabet Soup is hosting the Poetry Friday Roundup, thanks Jama–and her scrumptious blog posts are something not to miss!