"Mother's Day Ghazal"

A weekly poem, read by the author.
March 19 2002 3:15 PM

Mother's Day Ghazal

To hear Gail Mazur reading "Mother's Day Ghazal," click here. Sometimes a shift in tone is all you'd need to make you happy. A shade, a shadow—but then you wonder, is this happiness?

Heady scented air of wisteria, lilacs, and vibernum
that could drown you through the seven windows.

When you lived on a peninsula, a disoriented shark stranded
in the shallows; you observed her with terror, pity, and pleasure.

May, so ruthless with your feelings: you're fiercely in love
with your two children a tumultuous continent away.

Still, you could swim naked beneath the Pleiades at high tide
and dance barefoot without music, without a partner.

Altruistic surrender—the merciful self-exoneration
of maternal memory—undone by a child's mythologies …

You attached a screen door to the children's room;
an avid cat could climb and cling and never reach their cribs.

Although you have not been granted all you craved, you feel
no grievance, only an abandoned nestling's agitation.

If an era ends, who will interpret the last chimes?
A cafe closes, currency burns. The present's an archive.

Word arrives of Tokyo's crows pecking at schoolchildren,
the elemental smear and grime in immaculate narrow alleys.

The Gemara tells us Thou shalt observe and Thou shalt
remember
came down from heaven together. Remember?

Gail, you can't choose to run away—so, be alive to the work
in this room. Whatever else you've been hoping for.

Gail Mazur's fifth book, Zeppo's First Wife: New & Selected Poems, won the 2006 Massachusetts Book Award in poetry. Her most recent collection of poems, Figures in a Landscape, was published n 2011. She is distinguished writer in residence in the graduate program of Emerson College.

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