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A Mother's Sigh


The carpet is matted and brown
The pile worn where 17 years
Of children's feet
Have left their indelible mark.

Remnants of dinner
Lay spread on the dining table
A noodle mashed into the wood,
Sauce crusting on dulling tines.

She stands in her sweat pants,
Hair drawn back into a messy knot-
A broken pencil from a dusty bin
Doubles as a hair stick.

An oversized T-shirt
Hugs her woman's hips
Riding up as she bends forward
To begin the winter of the evening ritual

Table-scrape-sink
Wash-dry-sweep
Table-scrape-sink
Wash-dry-sweep

As she cleans she sees her picture,
Fresh and in her 20's-
Pounds lighter, skin tighter,
Hair thicker, eyes brighter,
Smiling for the camera
(And the man behind it).

Imposed upon the memory
She sees her own reflection,
Counts another hair of grey
Another crease upon her brow
And sighs the sigh all mother's know
That asks, “Where did that woman go?”

A sense of loss engulfs her-
Loss of youth
Loss of time
Loss of possibility
She wonders
How she got from there to here,
And, dishcloth in hand,
Is quite certain life has passed her by.
She wipes the noodle from the table,
Scrubs the crusted sauce from dulling tines
Until they shine
All the while certain
That there has to be more.

When, from the corner of her eye,
She spots her daughter
In the customary teen position-
Head tilted to one shoulder
With a cordless as a pillow,
Polished fingers fly across
The lap top keys
As she handles, with expertise
And animation,
A three-way call and
Simultaneous Instant Messaging.

Hair-a skein of liquid night,
Softly frame a face
Of almond coffee-colored eyes
Fringed by lashes, long and lush,
That almost touch
The winged arches of her brows.

For a moment
Her laughter fills the air
Floats across the room
For Mom to hear…

Brother marches toward the noise
To make the inquiry,
“Why do you talk so much”
And Sister waves him out
Instructing him to get a life
…And put on a shirt

An offended elf with thick, chocolate hair,
Sun-kissed skin and rosy cheeks
Sulks from the room.
“Horror of Horrors,”
He calls over his shoulder.
He leaps onto the sofa,
Folds his arm across his child chest
Sucks in his cheeks and starts to scratch…
“Look, Mommy!  I'm a monkey… eek, eek, eek!”
Then suddenly he morphs,
Jumps into the air
Wraps his arms around his legs
And bounces on his bottom
“Now I'm a buzzing bee!
I'm stinging the couch!
Buzz, buzz, buzz.”
 
Mother carries on her dreary chore,
Smiles to herself
Because she knows
She has everything she needs…
Just this…
Nothing more.


© August 29, 2004  Kalikolehua Orian





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