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
Call me when you get there
And NO SPEEDING!
She knows me well
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
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
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
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
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
Next year I’m nervous
Three weeks ago I plant seeds
About getting a tattoo…
Shock ignites her disorganized cynicism
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
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!
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
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!
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
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.