portrait poem

a portrait of my mother


For each person she is something, someone
different. The dream realized. The wearer
of pink and bows. The curly head.
The sly beauty. The loyal
friend. The artistic one. The one
with whom you hid under the table.
The desired one. The sharp-tongue.
The one who eloped.
The singer of lovely songs. The memory
of being held. The one who got
away. The free spirit. The painter of colorful
portraits. The smartest one
in the class. The fastest
runner. The one who thought
she knew god. The insane
roommate. The wife, the wife
the wife. The ex, ex, ex. The mother,
the mother, the mother (the mother).
The misdiagnosed one. The estranged
family member. The black sheep.
The still loved. The one who
smokes. The one absent
from the wedding.
The one absent, absent, absent.
The one who now shows up every week.
The one who sings to your children
as you don’t remember her singing
to you.