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Poems for Mother's Day

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My mother likes to tell me that even if I showed up at her door and told her I'd committed a felony--murder, whatever--she would still love me. That's love. It's also creepy, but it's love. And in honor of that peerless brand of devotion, here are some poems for Mother's Day.

Rudyard Kipling's mom apparently felt the same way as mine. Here's his poem, "Mother O' Mine."

If I were hanged on the highest hill,
Mother o' mine, O mother o' mine!
I know whose love would follow me still,
Mother o' mine, O mother o' mine!

If I were drowned in the deepest sea,
Mother o' mine, O mother o' mine!
I know whose tears would come down to me,
Mother o' mine, O mother o' mine!

If I were damned of body and soul,
I know whose prayers would make me whole,
Mother o' mine, O mother o' mine!

I love the brief, beautiful poem "To My Mother" by Robert Louis Stevenson. You can hear "the little feet along the floor" echo in the rhythms of the poem.

You too, my mother, read my rhymes
For love of unforgotten times,
And you may chance to hear once more
The little feet along the floor.

Emily Dickinson's poem "Nature--the Gentlest Mother is" is, on the surface, about mother nature. But it's also a lovely poem about motherhood in general.

Nature -- the Gentlest Mother is,
Impatient of no Child --
The feeblest -- or the waywardest --
Her Admonition mild --

In Forest -- and the Hill --
By Traveller -- be heard --
Restraining Rampant Squirrel --
Or too impetuous Bird --

How fair Her Conversation --
A Summer Afternoon --
Her Household -- Her Assembly --
And when the Sun go down --

Her Voice among the Aisles
Incite the timid prayer
Of the minutest Cricket --
The most unworthy Flower --

When all the Children sleep --
She turns as long away
As will suffice to light Her lamps --
Then bending from the Sky --

With infinite Affection --
And infiniter Care --
Her Golden finger on Her lip --
Wills Silence -- Everywhere --

And finally, here is "Lucky," a deeply personal, at times, awkward, and touching poem by Tony Hoagland about caring for his sick mother. He shies away from nothing.

If you are lucky in this life,
you will get to help your enemy
the way I got to help my mother
when she was weakened past the point of saying no.

Into the big enamel tub
half-filled with water
which I had made just right,
I lowered the childish skeleton
she had become.

Her eyelids fluttered as I soaped and rinsed
her belly and her chest,
the sorry ruin of her flanks
and the frayed gray cloud
between her legs.

Some nights, sitting by her bed
book open in my lap
while I listened to the air
move thickly in and out of her dark lungs,
my mind filled up with praise
as lush as music,

amazed at the symmetry and luck
that would offer me the chance to pay
my heavy debt of punishment and love
with love and punishment.

And once I held her dripping wet
in the uncomfortable air
between the wheelchair and the tub,
until she begged me like a child

to stop,
an act of cruelty which we both understood
was the ancient irresistible rejoicing
of power over weakness.

If you are lucky in this life,
you will get to raise the spoon
of pristine, frosty ice cream
to the trusting creature mouth
of your old enemy

because the tastebuds at least are not broken
because there is a bond between you
and sweet is sweet in any language.

Feel free to add your own poems about motherhood in the comments section below. And happy Mother's Day!

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Mother's Day - Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

Mother's Day (U.S.) - Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

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