Wednesday, October 27, 2010

Unsentimental Poem for Mothers

Advice to Myself
A Poem by Louise Erdrich

Leave the dishes.
Let the celery rot in the bottom drawer of the refrigerator
and earthen scum harden on the kitchen floor.
Leave the black crumbs at the bottom of the toaster.
Throw the cracked bowl out and don't patch the cup.
Don't patch anything. Don't mend. Buy safety pins.
Don't even sew in a button.
Let the wind have its way, then the earth

that invades as dust and then the dead
foaming up in gray rolls under the couch.
Talk to them. Tell them they are welcome.
Don't keep all the pieces of the puzzle
or the doll's tiny shoes, don't worry
who uses whose toothbrush or if anything
matches, at all.
Except one word to another. Or a thought.
Pursue the authentic.
Go after it with all your heart.
Your heart, that place
you don't even think of cleaning out.
That closet stuffed with savage mementoes.
Don't sort the paperclips from screws from saved baby teeth
or worry if we're all eating cereal for dinner
again. Don't answer the telephone, ever,
or weep over anything that breaks.
Pink molds will grow within those sealed cartons
in the refrigerator. Accept new forms of life
and talk to the dead
who drift in through the screened windows, who collect
patiently on tops of food jars and books.
Recycle the mail, don't read it, don't read anything
except what destroys the insulation between yourself and your experience.

Blogger's note:
This lovely poem is not just for those of us who are mothers of human beings, but those of us who mother art, who run businesses, teach school, run for office, write novels, wait tables, nurse the sick, doctor the unfirm, and tend to the myriad responsibilities that accompany our womanhood. 
May you all be blessed with uninsulated, authentic experience.

1 comment:

  1. Well said Claire!! Such a great post, so refreshing.
    Thanks for giving me a reason to smile tonight!! (while I leave the dishes, the vegs to rot and ignore my phone!)


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