As If I’d Seen Flowers For the First Time


from a dusted window,

and realized with astonishment

that my mother had brought these images to me,

that I owed any poetry I wrote to her,

that she had dusted the window, planted the tulips,

planted me beside her, beside the window,

before the flowers, to see that world

of which she was the greatest example. 


I remember when she brought paintings to school –

the “painting lady,”

she carried in her arms copies of Monet, Seurat, Degas.


We children sat on the floor of our classroom,

and she, who I knew every day

from breakfasts, lunches and dinners –

casseroles, spaghetti, chicken with artichokes –

moved freely in the air

of our childish interest, familiar exciting stranger,

pointing at people, making us laugh,

dreaming out loud for us,

who heard the earth of our imaginations rumble.


Is it enough to say that in my mind

she will always be connected

to those flashes of warmth and color, air and light?

The graceful ballerinas, facades of churches,

community of gazers at the water

on a leisurely Saturday afternoon,

everything harmoniously organized

like her office, bedroom, house.


In movies with warm mothers, therefore, I see her,

her outline, working in the kitchen, typing in her office;

in paintings of mothers, in Proust’s love for his mother,

even of the word “mother,”

I hear her voice,

and feel a guilty pride

to be her son.

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