Wednesday, November 19, 2008

The Writer's Almanac

I am always glad when I happen to be listening to NPR at 7:00 PM when The Writer's Almanac with Garrison Keillor comes on. Tonight at the end of the couple of minutes that it takes, Keillor read a poem that was so beautiful and so perfectly described motherhood that it brought tears to my eyes. Here it is:

After Our Daughter's Wedding

by Ellen Bass

While the remnants of cake
and half-empty champagne glasses
lay on the lawn like sunbathers lingering
in the slanting light, we left the house guests
and drove to Antonelli's pond.
On a log by the bank I sat in my flowered dress and cried.
A lone fisherman drifted by, casting his ribbon of light.
"Do you feel like you've given her away?" you asked.
But no, it was that she made it
to here, that she didn't
drown in a well or die
of pneumonia or take the pills.
She wasn't crushed
under the mammoth wheels of a semi
on highway 17, wasn't found
lying in the alley
that night after rehearsal
when I got the time wrong.
It's animal. The egg
not eaten by a weasel. Turtles
crossing the beach, exposed
in the moonlight. And we
have so few to start with.
And that long gestation—
like carrying your soul out in front of you.
All those years of feeding
and watching. The vulnerable hollow
at the back of the neck. Never knowing
what could pick them off—a seagull
swooping down for a clam.
Our most basic imperative:
for them to survive.
And there's never been a moment
we could count on it.

"After Our Daughter's Wedding" by Ellen Bass from Mules of Love. © BOA Editions, 2002. (buy now)


ma and pa otter said...

sniff sniff
thats it.


ma and pa otter said...

ok, my last comment sounded so gross I should delete it except that its kinda funny like those blog lurking weirdos

"aw sniffsniff thats it"?? gross

but you know what I meant, right?

Caroline said...

wow.....perfect...and Annie..totally got the sniff I'm sitting here trying to see the screen through my tears. The unspoken..written on the page...lovely.

Annette said...

Lovely. Thanks for sharing, Lauren.

online casinos said...

that's somehow an insightful poem..thanks for sharing..:)

dragonfly said...

I am not a mother - yet :) - but I love this poem. It brought tears to my eyes!

ellenmac said...

Wonderful! I don't know whether anyone your age has ever heard a Harry Belafonte song "Turn around". It is the most beautiful song about watching a daughter grow. "Turn around and you're tiny, turn around and you're grown, turn around and you're a young wife with babes of your own." I just learned that my chorus of old women is going to sing it for our Spring concert. I'm not at all sure I can do it without weeping.
I can't find Harry himself singing it but there is a version at
I love you. Keep up the great blog. Mom

Leah said...

My God. This is it, exactly. That vulnerable hollow at the back of the neck. That says it all. Thanks for posting this, Lauren. I'm all weepy these days anyway, but this did make me cry.