Mother’s Day

By Terry Martin

In spite of all this, her tulips are blooming
in the rock garden just outside the window.
Panoplies of red yellow orange white,
planted last year as the measure of her hope.

Inside the house
my mother lies dying
in a rented hospital bed.
A fading star around which everything now revolves.
Funny, somehow, to think of it as a ‘living room’,
and yet, that’s what it is.
Still.

‘To control the pain as much as
possible and to get you home’.
Those have been the shared and
stated goals all along.
Our top priorities.
So here we sit.
And now what?

A whole new vocabulary these days:
catheter, bolus, enema,
hospice, IV, bowel movements.
Morpheus, the god of sleep.
A parallel universe she now inhabits—
a relatively peaceful place, fortunately,
but one to which my father and I
have no access.

So on this strangest of Mother’s Days
celebration doesn’t feel possible.
Overshadowed by the pain
(hers, of course, the most obvious
but also his, theirs, mine)
and the unspoken realization
that this is the first one
we haven’t been able to celebrate
and our last one
together.

If I could, Mama,
I’d take you outside
to see your flowers today.
For just beyond these walls,
right on the other side,
bloom the tulips
that you planted last year
for the first time in your life.

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An avid reader and writer, Terry Martin has published hundreds of poems, essays, and articles, edited books, journals, and anthologies, and published three books of poems—Wishboats (2000), The Secret Language of Women (2006) and The Light You Find (2014).  She teaches English at Central Washington University, where she received the Distinguished Professor—Teaching Award. Martin was also honored as U.S. Professor of the Year by the CASE/Carnegie Foundation—a national teaching award given to recognize extraordinary commitment and contribution to undergraduate education. She lives with her spouse in Yakima, Washington—The Fruit Bowl of the Nation. “Mother’s Day” first appeared in English Journal, and in Wishboats. “Behind Lids of Half-Closed Eyes” first appeared in Calyx, and then in, The Light You Find (Blue Begonia Press, 2014).