I know I posted a Cathy Song poem a couple of weeks ago, but when I was searching for the perfect poem about a mother, I couldn’t get away from this one. Sure, it’s not a grown up’s reflection on his perfect and beautiful mother, but there is a blue and white tablecloth and a little boy who “brings birds under his chair” at breakfast. What more could we want in a Mother’s Day poem? Enjoy!
By Cathy Song
The mornings are his,
blue and white
like the tablecloth at breakfast.
He’s happy in the house,
a sweep of the spoon
brings the birds under his chair.
He sings and the dishes disappear.
Or holding a crayon like a candle,
he draws a circle.
It is his hundredth dragonfly.
Calling for more paper,
this one is red-winged
and like the others,
he wills it to fly, simply
by the unformed curve of his signature.
Waterwings he calls them,
the floats I strap to his arms.
I wear an apron of concern,
sweep the morning of birds.
To the water he returns,
plunging where it’s cold,
moving and squealing into sunlight.
The water from here seems flecked with gold.
his small body makes
fan and ripple,
disperse like an echo
into the sum of water, light and air.
His imprint on the water
has but a brief lifespan,
the flicker of a dragonfly’s delicate wing.
This is sadness, I tell myself,
the morning he chooses to leave his wings behind,
because he will not remember
that he and beauty were aligned,
skimming across the water, nearly airborne,
on his first solo flight.
I’ll write “how he could not
At the other end,
in another time frame,
he waits for me—
having already outdistanced this body,
the one that slipped from me like a fish,
floating, free of itself.
Cathy Song, “Waterwings” from Frameless Windows, Squares of Light. Copyright © 1988 by Cathy Song