Mom, Over Time

This poem was originally written for a poetry class at the University of Massachusetts Dartmouth and published in the University Temper Literary Review. Our professor instructed us to write a poem about someone we loved and I chose to write about my mother. The style of this poem takes inspiration from Dr. Manhattan, a character from Alan Moore and Dave Gibbon’s graphic novel, Watchmen and its film adaptation directed by Zack Snyder.

In the film Dr. Manhattan narrates a number of flashbacks about different events in his life, leading up to his life-changing accident. Presently a cosmic being, Dr. Manhattan’s relationship to time and space is synchronnous. There is no “this year” or “last month,” no “two hours ago” or “next week,” the past, present, and future is all happening now. I really enjoyed how the film pulled that scene off and I tried to translate the narrative style to the way I wrote this poem, in respect to different memorable moments I’ve had with my mother and my family.

It’s Saturday afternoon

I’ve shaken my dad’s hand

And given my mom a kiss

But before I leave for the road

I wait for her calling card

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Drive safe

Call me when you get there

And NO SPEEDING!

She knows me well

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Tonight’s last night and I’m home

They’re watching some prison “LOCKUP” special

She calls me to get her water because she’s hot

He tells me to shut the window because he’s cold

They’re aging before my eyes

We’re back in 03 and I’ve convinced her to let me go

To the school dance, but I’m not granted bail

Without her signature investigation

 

Where are you going?

Who are you going to be with?

What time are you coming back?

…And pull your pants up!

She needs to know, and I can’t stand it

 

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My mom, sister and I are in Beth Israel

It’s 2009 and dad’s finally awake after his prostatectomy

She’s holding herself together, while at the same time

Telling the nurses how to do their jobs

They don’t argue with her because they know better

He never works again, she takes extra shifts

 

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I’m a modern day DaVinci

With a sharpie on the white living room wall

When a tornado with hoop earrings and purple highlights

Storms in and yells at me to sponge away my masterpiece

It’s the 90s and I’m convinced all she does is yell

 

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On June 6, 2008 I stand head and shoulders above her

As we pose with my diploma, and a tears trickle down her cheek

In three days time it will be her birthday, mine in sixteen

And in five months we’ll be celebrating again

On a historic Tuesday night

 

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A month before that I’m volunteering after school

When the founder of the Peace Institute tells us how her son

Louis was shot, walking to a party five days before Christmas

It’s early 2008 and I understand why she needs to know

 

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Next year I’m nervous

Three weeks ago I plant seeds

About getting a tattoo…

Shock ignites her disorganized cynicism

 

Please.

What are you a thug?

It’s a waste of money.

How do you know if it’s sanitary?

You’ll never get a job…

I don’t bring it up again

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It’s three weeks later and sweat slithers down my arm

As I reveal the itchy white bandage over my chest

She’s not pleased, to say the least

A year from now I’ll get my second one

And that summer I can buy my first beer

Dad drinks with me, but of course she doesn’t

 

What are you an alcoholic now?

I work with them, they start young, you know…

Just because you can drink doesn’t mean you have to

You’ll ruin your liver!

She’s unbelievable

 

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My friends always want to come over lately

Because she always brings us a plate of burgers and fries

Mouths full, they tell me I’m lucky

It’s 2011 and their moms stopped cooking for them a long time ago

 

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Five minutes ago today

We were going through our usual dance

So I’m pulling out of the driveway

With a convenience store for a passenger

Do you have water?

Yes, mom. (I have one bottle left)

Do you need juice? I have iced tea in the freezer!

Ma…

I just cooked! I’ll give you some to take back.

I tell her I’m fine

But resistance is futile

Because when I get to the car, everything I said I didn’t need

Is waiting for me buckled up in the back seat

 

 

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I’m back on campus now

Hungry, but every place is closed

So I rummage through my mini fridge to find

The tupperware pot of gold I told her not to pack

It’s late Sunday night, and I’m glad she doesn’t listen.

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