Mother, I Remember


In honor of mother’s day – a poem I wrote about my own mother,

and all the things I remember about her when I was a child.

Mother, I remember

The texture of the skin on your face

The scent of your perfume before you left the house

The bedding with the frills and the tiny green flowers

The way you (still) sit down to dinner with a smile

Days under the lemon tree

The smell of the lemon leaves

Your presence, and your absence

The way your face changed after you put makeup on

Your sigh whenever you returned home

and said ‘cup of tea time’

half a dozen times a day

I remember

Your love of bread

Your different haircuts

Your endless support and organization

Going to the mall after dinner on Thursdays

with me, the edge of thirteen,

and buying the expensive jeans that I loved

Picking me up from drama class after dark

and coming home to eat leftovers while we watched

new episodes of the Naked Chef

I remember

the steaming pork buns from Chinatown

and the jam donuts you would bring us

in white paper bags after school before the trips to IKEA,

the grocery store, the bank.

I remember

reaching for the receipt at the ATM,

wandering the aisles choosing my favorite flavored milk

running down the corridors at the hospital you worked in

hurtling towards the cafeteria with its endless free cookies

I remember

asking you for a razor to shave my legs with

and a sports bra when all the girls at school wore them

the way you handed me a box of tampons for the first time

and the incredible birthday celebrations you would throw us

the way you set the breakfast table the night before

covering the table with gifts.

I remember the only time I saw you cry, really cry,

when your uncle passed away.

I remember the smell of the gin and tonic

you would drink with our dad after work,

and the little crystal glass of sherry

in the blue bottle that you poured

for yourself while making dinner

I remember watching you chop garlic

I remember watching you chop onion

I remember watching you stir pots and

wash dishes and fold laundry and carry

groceries and I remember the way you

insisted on being independent, and capable

and making the most of what we had, and

turning everything into gold. I remember

the giant buddha head in the back of the

car one day after you picked us up from school

I remember

crawling into your bed when I was

a child, and the scent of

your breath in the night.

by Sophie Ward