Creating connections through the arts and across cultures

Story Poems

One day I tore open a bulky brown package and there it was—
Exquisite, a sign of our peace, and mother love.
It's a woman's quilt.
African women stately and beautiful,
pounding sorghum and cooking porridge over an open fire.
You were there when you were there.
The women loved you because you were you, of course,
but most of all, because you were a mother.
You were my mother.

Adventurer,
Observer,
Gardener,
Artist,
Seamstress,
Craftswoman,
Teacher,
Birder,
Square Dancer,
Financial Tycoon.
You filled your life with the challenge of yourself.

Now, I call you on the telephone, a year after your stroke.
We nearly lost you.
You lost megabytes of memory.
But, you never lost yourself.
The more you forget, the kinder and softer you become.
“I love you, Janet,” you say.
And then, say again a few minutes later.
I love you, too, I say.
Then, the surprise word slips out:
Mommy.

Mother studied Biology in college and loved birds. She pointed out birds everywhere we went—on telephone lines and tree branches. Later in life she had the opportunity to bird all over the world. She was serious about her life list. There were birds she actively hunted for, and one of these was the Towhee.

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  1. When I talked, played, and sang of “Sightlines: A Poet’s Diary” | Riehl Life: Village Wisdom for the 21st Century

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