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Keeping the Mother Alive

I admit, all my mothers have died.

Oh, I had high hopes for many of them

Especially the one my mother gave me.

I said (to all who would hear)

I’m going to pass this mother down for generations!

Someone had told me someone had done that.

But the damn thing required real work

Every day, feed it, feed it,

and skim off the scum.

There were no short cuts

No, baby, no shortcuts for that mama.

I gave it a go for a few weeks

As if keeping that hungry lump of sourdough alive

Proved I was an ideal mother myself

Not the somewhat flawed one

My children were starting to tell me about,

The one I knew as saint and whore and more,

Like I wrote in one poem

When they were too young to read.

The one who traded ashes for burning,

Who unraveled woman strand by strand,

And choked on the limits,

The one who loved tulips, and daisies, and roses

And seemingly wanted to test

that the generations would not unravel.

(So far, they haven’t.)

In the end, the mothers died, all of them.

No amount of added flour or warm water

Could change that fact.

Like this poem,

I don’t know where it’s going

Or if it can be revived

Or if it can even be called a poem

I’m done feeding it.

It’s done.

Bye-bye, mama.  Mama, bye-bye.