For my Mother, who Kicked the Bathroom Door
and broke her waters,
who lay back, let the doctor cut her,
who lay back, let me split her,
who taught me to pronounce episiotomy,
who taught me my first epistle:
I love you. I love you. I love you.
who worded my first word for God,
who worded my first language, my whole tongue,
who worked the grill and the cash register,
who worked to wash the wealthier houses,
and was broken, and broke herself,
let me now un-pain the lessons of love.
I was all set to write another character sketch story poem. I had the title, and a general idea, even a first line. But I just wasn't in the mood. My heart wasn't in it.
I wanted to write a poem about my mother.
For some reason, I got the idea that I was born late, two weeks past my due date. I had this notion that I didn't want to come out. I looked at that as fitting, and funny.
When I brought this up to my mother, however, she quickly let me know I was wrong. I still don't know where I got the idea that I was late, but she told me that in fact I was a couple weeks early.
She told me that she was mad at my father, and she kicked the bathroom door. He was in the bathoom, and she kicked the door. Later, I don't know how much later, her water broke, and my father drove her to a doctor, who told her to go to the hospital. My father drove over to the hospital to find a parking spot without my mother, who walked the (short) distance from the doctor's office to the hospital.
All of this is strange and inexplicable.
I can't remember the occasion for the discussion, but at some point my mother did tell me about and teach me to pronounce episiotomy. She also told me about the heating lamps they shined on her crotch after she gave birth.
As for the epistle, I very vividly remember making cards for my mother when I was little, inconspicuously (I thought) asking her to spell "mommy" and "love" and "you."
Towards the end of the poem, I simply list the jobs my mother worked, manual labor jobs that brought her home smelling of grease or tile cleaner, in order to keep us both fed and housed.
This was a difficult poem to write. My relationship with my mother is a complicated topic.
I wrote this poem on October 12, 2014 as part of Tupelo Press's 30/30 Project.