Lilacs

My mother, Susan, with me and my brother Patrick

My mother, Susan, with me and my brother Patrick

 

Happy Mother's Day weekend! There is so much to celebrate. I get to spend this weekend with my two children swinging at the park, playing with friends, snuggling and being luxuriously lazy. As I type this, they are both napping, which Xavier at five rarely does now. This in itself is a gift on this sunny Saturday afternoon. And next weekend I get to spend with my own mother. A year ago, she came through an emergency open heart surgery and is now stronger than ever. Her four children will gather around her next weekend in Ojai, California to enjoy each other's company with no spouses or children to tend. What a gift, on so many levels.

I've been reading back over all the poems I've gathered for this project that has evolved into To Give to the Light. So many phrases that resonate deeply. So many stanzas written by others that take me back in time and return my own memories to me. I feel grateful to the people who wrote down these words, these moments, these shared feelings of being a mother and a parent in a wide community of mothers and parents. I feel grateful to get to share them with you.

As lilacs bloom in here in Seattle, I stopped reading for a few moments to write a poem called "Lilacs" for my mother, for myself, and for all the mothers that came before us.

Enjoy your mother's day. Enjoy all your days as a mother.

 

Lilacs

 

In May, my mother

would clip an armful

of lilac blossoms

from the backyard bush

next to the sandbox

between the alley

and the white picket fence.

She’d bring them inside,

their delicate scent

fleeting, extravagant.

I can see her standing

in the downstairs

sun porch arranging

the lush purple bounty

just so.

 

None of us live in that house

anymore. The children

who do, now watch

their mother press her face

into lavender riches carried in

from the yard. This is how

daughters learn the world

offers plentitude to anyone

who pays attention.

 

My mother finds

lilac bushes in new towns.

She enjoys beauty

everywhere she goes,

taking pause to exclaim

with delight.

 

Oh just smell these lilacs.

 

Mothers go back

innumerable generations

arranging lilac blossoms.

Daughters stretch

far into the future

remembering mothers

arranging lilac blossoms.

 

My maternal grandmother, Dolores, with her husband Charles.

My maternal grandmother, Dolores, with her husband Charles.

My paternal grandmother, LaVerne.

My paternal grandmother, LaVerne.

My daughter, Georgia, and me.

My daughter, Georgia, and me.

Sarah Burns