Tuesday, February 28, 2017

Madre Mia

Betty & Butch

Madre Mia

“A mother is her son’s first god--she must teach
him how to love.”--T.F. Hodge.

My mother passed away
at 39, before silver gathered
in her hair, before I took
my first plane ride on my
way to Navy boot camp,
before I became anything
besides her first son.

My stepfather, before he
died young from love 
of Lucky Strikes, gave me
a plain tattered envelope--
“It’s some of your mother’s
stuff. I can’t look at them
any longer; it makes me
too sad.. Don’t look at the stuff
until you get home.

I found my mother’s
driver’s license,
social security card,
library card,
a book marker with doodles on it,
an 11th grade report card
with straight A’s in a trim line,
(she had dropped out of school
 at 17 to give birth to me),
several snapshots of her
as a young girl, a thin gold necklace
with a cross on it, 
her wedding ring,
and a hand--written note:
Butch--Art & I are playing cards 
over at Lauren & Bob’s. Your dinner
is in the fridge.--Love Mom.

I printed MOTHER 
in bold cartoon balloon letters
on the front of the envelope,
and added two snapshots
I had taken of her

Cancer kidnapped my
mother. It stole her smile and

her sparkling blue eyes.

Glenn Buttkus

Posted over at dVerse Poets Pub


brudberg said...

This is such a strong memory Glenn, truly a perfect poem for those mementos... when you have lost someone I think that note can be the best (and worst) of keepsakes. I hope you still have them somewhere.

Grace said...

I agree, keep them close to your heart! I like the personal write very much, including the picture too Glenn ~

Kim M. Russell said...

Yes, Glenn, hold on to them. I have realised that I only have some photos and a ring that belonged to my mum. I wish I had just a little more...

violet said...

This is very powerful, Glenn. I feel like I know you now.

One of the markers of a strong poem is that it touches the hollow of the reader's gut, where she hides her most painful traces, making her swallow back sorrow and so much connection to your piece.

Thank you for doing this to me.

I am 39, by the way.

paul mortimer said...

This is such a powerful and poignant poem Glenn. The way you take us through the ache and then into that place of treasured memories. Well crafted.

Frank Hubeny said...

Nice remembrance of your mother.

De Jackson said...

Oh, Glenn.
This line got caught right in my throat:
"before I became anything
besides her first son."

You have become so much. She would be so proud.
A beautiful, touching piece.

Sherry Blue Sky said...

This is so moving. It squeezed my heart.

Mish said...

You have shared more than memories here, no less than a piece of your heart. Thank you for this personal write. I lost my dad when I was 22. It sure changes our trajectories in life.

Kathy Reed said...

So very touching...would like to have heard you read it, but that would be hard to do without getting a big lump in your throat. I love the note in the envelope...it shows her everyday dedicated, immense love for you in its simplest form. Great photo!

Therisa's World said...

Wish I had such positive memories of my mom when she does pass away, but they're forever tainted with fear and hate, after coming out, to her, on Canada Day, 2006. I feel the love, in your words that bleed through the monitor, to me, Glenn. Your time may have short, but it was filled with love that she gave to you.

purplepeninportland.com said...

I was tearing up from the first stanza. A wonderful picture and tribute, so well written.

Sarah Bawden said...

Very moving, thank you for sharing.

Maria said...

So long as we hold on to those memories, we'll never lose them. A beautiful tribute indeed.

Sreeja said...


lillianthehomepoet.wordpress.com said...

Oh Glenn. I am overwhelmed with emotion reading this. I am so very sorry for your loss -- when so young. Both your mother and you. There are strong ties here, it is obvious. We hold on to memories through objects and what is in our heart. And yes, cancer is one of the most evil diseases there is.....in all its many forms.
Thinking of you.......

Anonymous said...

A beautiful and deeply emotional piece Glenn.

indybev said...

This touched such a chord with me, Glenn. I remember cleaning out my husband's dresser after he died...his wallet, driver's license, favorite cuff links, a photo of me during out courtship, etc. I remember thinking this, this is what we have to show for a lifetime. It certainly puts one in touch with what the important things are in this life, doesn't i? Beautifully written, Glenn. Thank you.