Away, Helping My Mother

Wren on December 13th, 2008

It’s from my amazing mother that I get my entrepreneurial spirit-We’re both “idea people.” While I peddle fair trade wares, teach homeschoolers and write, my mother’s latest project has been a much more ambitious one: Harmony Habitat, a group home for mentally challenged adults, located on our family farm in Bloomfield, Kentucky.

On November 30, 2008, as I started my third and last day of Festival of Trees, my mother and three of her residents were in a terrible car accident. Her clients were unhurt but Mom received a traumatic brain injury, a compression fracture of the spine, several broken ribs and many bruises. I got the news from my sister and did my best to finish the festival. The next day, I was on the road to Louisville, Kentucky, where Mom was in intensive care.

As the days of her recovery start to turn into weeks, my siblings and I manage her medical care, the group home and the family farm. I’ve found myself reflecting on my relationship with my mother, my murky mirror. Here are two poems she inspired, spanning the continuum of my empathy and anger.

The Captive Fire

She tosses the yarn
and the kittens roll with it,
hitting the wall at the
propane heater,
its grill a cage for
the captive fire within.

She lets out a smile
but it swings back to her,
on a pendulum,
like a good smile,
contained in quiet play.

In the span of a sigh
the kittens will leave, cats,
echoes of the children
who fell, men and women,
from her breast.
She would give a breast
to be needed
that way again.

She snatches the yarn
and the kittens
settle for her shoelace
as she finishes the fringe
on her fourth grandson’s afghan.
Muted shades of
red, orange and yellow.



You have effected a masterful
disturbance upon the
landscape of my face.
It’s your m.o., it keeps
you dealer, driver, maestro,
holder of the stick at the end of
the carrot,
the one and only well of
maternal approval.

Dry, dry–I drop my divining rod
in favor of an oil drill.
But in the dust bowl roulette,
neighboring farms can gush
and gush
and my one and only well
can stay dry.
And I can drill until
I crack a fissure monument
in the landscape.
And the family business

Wren Tuatha will resume posting in January, 2009. Blessed Winter Solstice and Happy New Year!

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