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an ordinary woman

a little belated, but in honor of mothers day and everyone who’s ever mothered anyone else,  here’s a poem i wrote for my mother a long time ago.

yes, i had to wrestle many a demon of resentment and anger and put aside many “but why…”‘s and “but how could you..”‘s for my mom and i to get where we are now, but i salute her for her strength and courage and for doing what she could in the face of impossible odds. and i guess i thank her for having me in the face of scandal and at a time when my birth was regarded as “dishonor”, keeping and loving and raising me the best way she knew how.

we’ve had to weather the storm of my 12 years of incest which happened under her nose and which i still don’t understand that she did not see, but i don’t have to understand that to know that she did what she thought was right and that she always loved me.

so mom, i forgive us both and i love you.

AN ORDINARY WOMAN

My  mother  is an ordinary woman.

Like other women,

she’s been someone’s wife.

Like other  women, she’s known pain,

but again and again,

when bad times battered down the door,

she’d look for better climes.

I learnt from her

that sorrows grow where joy is overthrown,

but she taught me also

that the sands of life when trouble-heated,

can glow to glass.

And as my childhood passed,

she began to give me,

white as sun-bleached bones,

round and red-veined,

stones, lying soundless, but assured

in the palm of my hand.

At first I didn’t know

what she was trying to show me,

but as I grow into my  past,

I think I begin to understand.

I feel those stones

anchoring me to the core of women

who’ve endured all.

My mother, maybe unwittingly,

but with ancient wisdom,

provided me my own primal symbol,

a forgotten talisman with access to ritual  –

she thinks she failed to

help me find religion,

but she helped to set me free;

with a stone picked from the road,

she somehow conjured bone and blood.

My mother’s an extraordinary mortal.

When the ignorant one’s tore off her wings

and thought they’d stolen flight,

she caressed her scars,

and wingless, flew.

They pulled the noose tight,

thinking to still her voice,

but listen at dusk

to the rattling of stones

and you’ll see a woman

leap these roof-tops.

There’s proof –

my mother’s voice is ringing in my blood –

they’ll never stop her singing.

My mother’s an ordinary mortal,

extraordinarily.

She taught me what she knew…

lessons of pain and impermanence,

untiring resilience and rebirth

and she gave me, too,

a capacity  for resounding mirth.

She may not know just what she’s worth,

but one day, like her,

I hope I’ll grow to be

an ordinary woman,

extraordinarily.