Various and Sundry Poetry

a poem for the mothers in my midst

You have such strong shoulders.
There is nothing we’d rather do than climb on them and stay put.
No one would ever think you indecisive or ungenerous.
You know exactly how you stand, and where.
You rarely forget a face. And if you forget the name exactly,
you’ll notice the new shirt, the shade of lipstick, fresh haircuts,
a jasmine scent just purchased.
You are good at keeping the plane aloft.
You make baking disasters work in your favor.
You know how to keep cool. You take naps on hot afternoons,
stay in the shade during the last outs of the final baseball game,
make popsicles out of Kool-aid.
You know where the rest stops are on long vacation drives.
Your eyes never wander from their purpose.
Your mouth never forgets its smile. Your palms
are gentler than anything alive.
You know where the candles are during a blackout.
You tackle nightmares, fevers, and algebra with equal fearlessness.
You can save a bird from dying.
You know how to take away the mistake of a fall.
You keep appointments. You don’t lie.
You know where it hurts.
You say, “Don’t worry,” and mean it.
You reach to the top shelf, where the medicine is.
The sound of your voice is a compass of pure direction.

Even when our own faces are turned away,
our bodies a mess of pure, squirmy rebellion -
Even when we cross arms against chests,
use words you don't remember teaching -
Even in the dark, thick woods we lose ourselves to,
unclutching our fists of the giveaway red cape,
Know this:
we are listening, always.