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To My Mother
If this were a love poem, it would be full of abstract things,
and I would talk a lot about love, the obscure concept of love
and say thank you
and people would nod, clap, not understand.
And there it was, just a poem about love that know one really understood,
because it was not their love to feel.
But, I want to sing the world over, so they can understand,
the people who think I am just a daughter, she is just my mother.
I want to sing of a love because it is strong and so is she.
It is a love, one you can’t measure in birthday cards,
declarations of admiration,
one you cannot just insist exists
It is a love measured in small things,
Measured in coffee cups, because every morning my mother drinks her coffee, tan,
half and half, in boxer shorts, slight smiles, and good mornings and
I love the way she makes her coffee
And I love that she is slender,
elliptical hips, treadmill thighs, a body invoking jealousy,
but she is so modest, so strong.
And sometimes I watch her run, and her eyes get narrow and
I could say I love you a thousand times right there or cry
because there she is, my mother who runs to feel something,
to feel the pain, to challenge it, to overcome it.
And I love the way she tells me I am wrong, because she says no one else
will and it makes me tough, braver.
I never admitted it, but I am only strong because she has taught me to be strong.
I can only love because she has taught me that family is love, the heart
of a life in the face of high school, growing up, crying, and home is
Sunday mornings sister dancing to the beating of eggs, Papi and brother talking about
Algebra, the history channel, the stock market and
Mommy cracking jokes, funny faces, a tomboy turned beautiful rock and roll house wife
I love the swag, the boyfriend jeans, the platforms, down Greenwich Ave
I love the way she dances
And I love when she tells me not to work so hard and I justify with, but college and junior year and SATs
and She just tells me that this is life, you do what you can do
I love the old stories the ones about the Beverly hills hotel and saving up quarters to buy fresh donuts or eating ice cream out of junior high school tennis trophies
I love the way she says I love you to Papi and crawls into bed with sister.
I love her hands, that are now bruised, and she tries to hide them, but I think 50 years is beautiful, she is beautiful.
So this is not just a love poem, this is not just a thank you,
This is for my mother, for Mommy
For the woman who holds back tears for me, just so I can smile
For the woman who tells me to believe in greater things
Who tells me I shall be great
Who tells me to believe in love
Who tells me to believe in bravery