Wednesday, February 11, 2009

La madre

I have found the great mother, the last mother.
See how she enters?
How she draws the dust in,
world-worn but not world-weary.
There are bits of everything in the dust--
snakes and cattle and the South,
the sterile stability of the corporate North--
that subtly settles and ages everything; ripens it.
She has the world wrapped up in her clothes;
samples and scents layered in linen.
This woman, the final matriarch,
a penultimate token of bygone,
family-bound times.
She has come to break me down.
This world is built on her back,
balanced on her broadness--
you can see it garrisoned in her garments--
and she knows this,
knows that cities shake when she shrugs
her coat from her shoulders,
that she is the cradler,
the carrier of our kind;
knows that everyone is hers.
Wise and worn, but not weary,
she has come to break me down.
Cities tumble as she shears off her coat,
children scampering from about her legs
like startled doves and deer;
dust drawn away.
She shows me the smoothness of her skin,
wipes away her wrinkles;
works the weakness from her hands and turns to me.
Yes, this woman, this last-standing mother,
our world is built upon her,
and she is the keeper of our kind.
The wretched responsibility of compassion and care
wielded by woman grinds down on her,
layers dust and dirt and filth and ruin on her frame;
wrinkles her flesh-wealth, but never tires,
never trumps the timelessness tucked between her breasts.
She is the smooth-skinned preserver,
and she presses into me,
crafting man to child, to grow again, improved,
offering life and leaving me with lessons and lotion.
It is how she manages mankind.
The mother breaks me down.
She gathers her coat and the cities and
the children that she keeps
and kisses them, coaxes them along.
The dust departs; withdraws.
And I,
I, the infant, begin to crawl.

Commissioned by and for the venerable Patsy, a coworker.

Of course, the only refined, clean copy I had is now in her possession (or perhaps somewhere worse), so there are a few rough spots that I can't recall the solution for.

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