Tuesday, February 1, 2011

What mothers say

when they are greeted grumpily in the morning by their children, told that there's nothing to eat or I hate that kind of cereal or I don't have any clean underwear and how come our laundry isn't done?, what mothers say is do you understand what it's like to have to ask someone to do something all day, every day? What if you had to ask me to do your laundry or make your breakfast or buy you new clothes or pay for your sports equipment like I have to ask you to pick up your towels, feed the dog, brush your teeth, empty your lunchbox, take out the garbage, pick up that piece of paper on the floor that you've just stepped over.


There's always poetry, though, women in peignoirs, the complacency of peignoirs (thank you Wallace Stevens), etc.:

Angry Women

Women in peignoirs are floating around
the landscape well out of eyesight

let alone reach. They are as palpable

as the ghost of my dog Rose whom I see
on long walks, especially when exhausted
and my half-blind eyes are blurred by cold wind
or sleet or snow. The women we've mistreated
never forgive us nor should they, thus their ghostly
energies thrive at dawn and twilight in this vast
country where any of the mind's movies can be played
against this rumpled wide-screened landscape.
Our souls are travelers. You can tell when your own
is gone, and then these bleak, improbable
visits from others, their dry tears because you were
never what you weren't, so that the world
becomes only what it is, the unforgiving flow

of an unfathomable river. Still they wanted you otherwise,
closer to their dreamchild, just as you imagined
fair maidens tight to you as decals to guide
you toward certainties. The new pup, uncrippled by ideals,
leaps against the fence, leaps at the mountains beyond.

         -- Jim Harrison


  1. 'The women we've mistreated never forgive us, nor should they'...Wonderful poem, and wonderful thoughts, Elizabeth.

    I suspect our resentments and our guilt turn into ghosts that rise up and shine a light on our memories. Life's tough.

    thank you.

  2. Ah ha ha---I've mostly ditched the peignoir in favor of going around naked (having lost it altogether?)!

    OTOH, all of Amelia's fault-finding with her mother is absolutely valid.
    I'm constantly apologizing.

    wv: ultru. Really!

  3. I needed this post today. I never thought of it that way before - what if my family needed to ask for everything...once, twice, 3 times, 4 times, asking into the void...

  4. I will read this again tomorrow on yet another snow day.

  5. I love this post. And the lineOur souls are travelers.

  6. I love Jim Harrison. I saw him once, years ago, read in a bar. He was drunk, drunk, drunk and his face was like a scarred old pine tree.
    I see those women in peignoirs. I know who they are.

  7. Wow. Thanks for exposing us to such wonderful poetry.

  8. From one peignoir wearing woman to the other - cheers!



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