Poem: Paper

Kelly Sikkema, Unsplash.com
My mom once said that I was like paper
I went where I pleased
and couldn’t be held down
I was like air she said.
My mother’s constant gift
was knowing that I was loved
despite the disappointment
of my choices
“I trust you,” she said.

I think of my mom everyday
more than when she was on Earth.
She lives inside
my consciousness
ringing in my ears
singing to my tummy
“Judy’s stomach is smiling”
no tears are falling
She’s spinning me in a circle of love.

I wanted her all to myself
for just a few years
couldn’t we be an island?
No father no siblings
just mama and me
sitting on the grass talking
with turtles and growing sweet corn
feeding the ducks by the lake.
Can I meet you there when I sleep?

When I was a baby
from one until three
she left me crying on the tarmac
my little baby heart beating and thumping
I was inconsolable
until the shock wore off
pouring baby tears.
I don’t remember how long it took
for me to move on without her.

Do babies understand funerals?
She was my disappearing sunlight
She was my peek-a-boo moon
She was my goddess-sized Angel
compared to my infant body
she was a statuesque monument.

She was life and sustenance
She created laughter
named the shape of things in my world.
Everything I discovered was from her.
I was her chubby cheeked puppy
who she left howling crazy
and so was she gliding on an airplane
to the Land of the Free.

She said she cried until our reunion
when I was three almost four
the years of separation made us strangers.
We were locked into fate that summer
and again in 93 that’s when I left her.

How can I explain how much I miss her
How can I explain why I left
How can I claim I love her
When I caused her the most distress?
My will was in natural opposition
to hers, that was our obstacle.

She tried to carve me into place
She did this lovingly
but all I saw was criticism.
Make as much peace with those you love
while they’re listening.
Look into their eyes into infinity
Save that moment forever
nothing else matters more than love.

21 Comments

  1. Beautiful, Judy… just so very beautiful and wonderfully written. You do such skillful work of showing the bad with the good and the importance of making peace with the past. Very personal yet universally applicable poem. 🙏💗🌷

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    1. Thank you, Nadine. I love that poetry is an outlet for all the things left unsaid, feels therapeutic to get the feelings out. I appreciate your kindness. 🙏💖🤗🌷

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    1. Thank you, Christopher 💖. I woke up this morning thinking of my mom. Her presence is everywhere, it makes me feel like she’s still here. I hope I’ll make peace with my family soon despite all the reasons why I resist calling them. Family/Love is so complicated.

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  2. Beautiful Judy, and so authentic, the emotion comes through clearly. My mother was very similar in her way. She was my authoritarian guard, not allowing any stray steps from the path of a worthy life. So I left the path often to see for myself and broke her heart, but she never gave up. She was my best friend consoling my pain and sharing her own life to help me understand life goes on and we need not be harmed or full of bitterness and regret by it. She died at age 49 when I was still a young man and I walked on for a while until her presence urged me back to the path of a worthy life. Her picture on the wall is frozen in a youthful gaze, her eyes beckoning me to behave and be useful. Mind your manners, be a gentleman in the face of violence, and treat women with respect for being good natured and loving in the face of hardship. Your poem brings her back to me with sufficient tears to mourn her loss some 37 years ago. That is the power of your poetry.

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    1. Your story resonates with me, Dan, thank you for sharing it. 49 is so young, I’m sorry your mother passed away so early. She sounds amazing, I think the previous generations were much stronger than ours. I think she’s proud of you and feels your love for her. I think of my mom often, and I get sweet reminders of her that make me feel like she’s watching over me. I remember the last time we looked into each other’s eyes, with mutual love and pride, I replay that memory, and tears come. I wish I’d spent more time, letting her know how much I admired her but I think she knows, now that she’s in a peaceful space. Life is so complicated. It’s hard to see clearly here. Thank you for your beautiful comment.

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