MY MOTHER WAS A SEAMSTRESS

My mother was a seamstress who mended people’s lives. Those who were lost and needy found their way to her.

She heard the unspoken, whispered in the mind like a prayer,

and tended to it quietly, like the goddess, Leto. She spent a lifetime

assuaging the injured and broken, giving to others even as she neglected herself.

She’d only had two manicures in her life.

One on the day she was married,

And the other three days after my father died. She was

Too busy and far too frugal to tend to herself.

As I journeyed out and read the world, the love of my mother was written everywhere.

My father’s love was like the afikomen, hidden, where only one lucky one would find it.

My mother was refuge, mooring, an island. She had soft, pillowy breasts, that provided

a place to land when the world pulled the rug out from under me or

whenever I stubbed my toe or was snubbed as an outsider.

Friendless, abandoned and lost, she could read my soul. As a child, I’d cocoon in her lap,

she’d rock me and I believed that everything would get better,

Because she told me it would. Her words a caressing breath.

When I was sheltered in her sanctuary, I’d hear her heartbeat, rhythms of calm.

They say that the heart is the connection to the universe

and the chord that vibrates through all of us, like electricity, like a rushing stream,

like a magnet we are drawn to. I felt part of something greater.

When my mother flew away to join my father, I lost my bearing. Polaris was gone.

Orphaned, I wandered, vacant, lost and numb.

My young son, with the wisdom of the gods

Crawled into my lap, laid his head on my chest and said,

She lives in here now, Papa. She lives in here.”

I hugged him tighter, and when I’m able to remain very quiet, and listen

Truly listen.  

Listen to the inside, I can hear her. I need to hear her now.

My son has grown into a young man, seeing 18 summers trudge past on burning feet,

a tortured soul, haunted by the darkness. I want so badly to give him lightness and laughter.

To help him rediscover the link he’s always had.

My words and insight are useless to him now,

as he tries to find himself

on his self-inflicted rite of passage.

I can only watch helplessly like I did when he learned to swim

and I wanted to jump in too,

to keep him from being scared.

To let him know I was there. That my love wasn’t written in sand or ephemeral.

He told me the other night that he was at his lowest. I couldn’t speak,

because there were no words to offer him. I’d reached the very end of my dictionary.

He read me easily, we were wearing each other’s pain, the pain of not knowing.

He said, “It’s not your fault, Papa,” then laid his head on my chest.

I was both father and son.

He could hear my heartbeat, and both our souls eased.  

We held each other tightly, quietly.

Listening, listening, listening.

Hoping to hear her, and the wisdom of the universe,

As my mother rocked us both.

 

 

 

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