Mother, May I?

One of the reasons I blog is so that I can share with you what I’ve been reading. And ever since I spent a month (last April) blogging about poetry I love, I have been attracting poetry — people pass along their favorite books, books of poetry just turn up, willy nilly, and poets sign their own books and hand them over to me. It makes me happy to be me.

One of these recent finds is Mother, May I, poems by Bellingham author, C. J. Prince.

C. J. and I had childhoods that do not resemble one another, in the least. No pink ladies or gimlets in my Pentecostal household. No pierced ears. (Severe and shocking haircuts, yes.)

Even so, this journey resonated with me at every step. A friend recently asked me who her audience would be, if she wrote her story. I told her that all any of us can do is to say, “This is what it’s been like for me to be human. What’s it been like for you?”

C. J. has reminded me that our mothers — flawed though they may be — are our first loves. It’s a messy, passionate love, and we all recognize it when we see it. I see it in these poems, from the first memory, to the final parting.

You can find C. J.’s book at Village Books, also on Amazon.

This is the first poem:


Friday nights they forget

Don’t is the first word
I remember — a voice from above.
Don’t doesn’t mean anything
if you’re eighteen months old.

Adults on the couch laugh,
sip martinis. I reach
for the giant green olive
with a pimento dot
like a comic book eye.
Mother’s stern look flashes
a warning that might alert father.
I wait, play with wooden blocks.

Mom pulls out a cigarette, Dad flicks a Zippo.
A blue haze circles around me. They drink
and then an empty glass is lowered.
I snatch the shiny green treasure,
suck tart juice, bite into the chilled olive.
Martini juice dribbles to my elbow.

3 replies
  1. Carolynne Harris
    Carolynne Harris says:

    That’s quite a telling poem in few words CJ paints a picture of a life beginning that sounds like Anne Lamott’s? The life that to many is sophisticated.


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