Thursday, 10 March 2022

Understanding My Mother

by Shelly Blankman

I’d tried to ward off age with dyes and creams  –
any cosmetic blasted by ads to make me feel
younger than I was, even as muscles and bones
became barometers of oncoming rain.

I refused to surrender to the enemy of time 
as my mother had. She had locked herself
in a prison of fractured memories, and that’s
where she stayed as we all grew up and moved away. 

She stopped shopping, dining out, seeing friends, 
hosting holiday meals. She watched TV endlessly. 
Once neatly dressed in freshly pressed blouses and skirts, 
she now lounged around the house all day in nightgowns,

content with her cats as her only companions – a shell
of her former self. I didn’t understand. Then the pandemic 
descended on humanity like a hawk on its prey, I could feel
the sadness of my mother course through my veins. I am 

the one imprisoned now because we all are. I don’t try
to defeat age anymore. I stay home, wear sweats or pajamas.
I watch TV and snuggle with my cats, the only ones safe 
to hug anymore. I don’t count crow’s feet or wrinkles or gray hairs.

I understand my mother now.

* * * * *

Shelly Blankman lives in Columbia, Maryland, where she and her husband have filled their empty nest with three rescue cats and a foster dog. Their sons, Richard and Joshua, live in New York and Texas, respectively. Following careers in journalism, public relations, and copy editing, Shelly now spends time writing poetry, scrapbooking and making cards. Her poetry has appeared in The Ekphrastic Review, Poetry Super Highway, Halfway Down the Stairs, and Muddy River Review, among other publications. Richard and Joshua surprised her by publishing her first book of poetry, Pumpkinhead.

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