Write a poem for Mother's Day

How even a bad poem can make Mother's Day a day to remember. Photo: anon.

WASHINGTON, May 12, 2013 — On Mother’s Day we send Hallmark cards, and you can even make your own on their website. 

We send flowers, easier to do than ever before because of all the options on the Internet. 

We call. A couple years ago Reuters reported that Mother’s Day beat New Year’s and Valentine’s Day for call volume.

But, for too many of us, it’s hard to say what needs to be said. 

Thom Jones in the short story “I Want to Live!” that’s about a woman who is dying of cancer explains. The woman’s son-in-law “told her the stuff that her daughter couldn’t tell her. He told her that her daughter loved her very much but that it was hard for her to say so. She [his mother-in-law] cringed at this revelation, for it was ditto with her…” 

So it may be for you. 

If “Happy Mother’s Day, Mom” is your line, that’s a start. If “I love you” is your line, even better. 

Mother’s Day greetings.

Doing a bit more with your words could make all the difference in your life and in your memory when your mother is gone. 

I once wrote a poem—and trust me, it was not great poetry—for my mother and my father. My mother died four years later; my father followed soon on her heels. 

Here’s the poem—and may the literary gods forgive me: 

Her optimism squared our shoulders

 She knitted our sweaters with wool from
the past and patterns for the future. 

She warmed us with soup
and wrapped us in strudel. 

She nursed the sick
when no one else could bear to,
when all others had gone. 

She fixed the broken—
the trinket that fell,
the china that cracked,
the spirit that weakened. 

She fed our souls and mended our spirits. 

His gentleness was our teacher. 

His books and music,
the outline in our search for peace. 

His tennis,
the textbook on youth. 

He soothed us with quiet wisdom—
that understood what we were
and wanted to be. 

He showed us the way.

Their bond was our haven. 

They swaddled us with comfort
when our tears would not stop. 

They cradled us with goodness
and sang to us of truth. 

They were the source of our lives. 

As I’ve become a better writer, I’ve learned the importance of the not-so-good poem that they both were alive to read. 

Our parents are flawed—as we are. We may, for sure, recall all the ways they’ve failed us. 

But if they were present, if they tried, then revisit memory to find the good and tell the good to your mother and for that matter to the mother of your children, as well. 

Too many times I hear folks say they don’t need to do anything for a partner on these days that are said by some to have been created by Hallmark Cards because, after all, “You’re not my mother.” But you know what your partner did for your children. So remember and tell. 

Mother’s Day remembrance in flowers.

We, as parents, also need to remember and tell our children how they’ve enriched our lives, particularly when they’re grown and have children of their own. 

We all need to remember. 

What our parents did wrong, all the ways they hurt us, may surely, have emotional truth for each of us. And, yes, factual truth in too many cases. 

I argue for memory in the face of those facts. I argue for the search for the good. 

In a column I wrote last year entitled “Finding Love: The Butterfly Effect,” I discuss Mike Mills’ film Beginners and John Madden’s film The Debt. Both films move back and forth between past and present. These directors understand the essential role of memory in relationships. 

Dear reader, recovering the good this Mother’s Day through specific memories—and, yes, a poem you write—could be the greatest gift you give your mother and yourself. 

I argue for forgiveness on this human journey of life because of all the ways that life betrays the living. 

I argue for poetry because even a bad poem can heal your world and hers.


Mary L. Tabor is the author of the Who by Fire a novel, the memoir (Re)Making Love: a memoir and The Woman Who Never Cooked. She says, “I ferret out the detail, love the footnote, am never bored and believe it all leads to story. Best advice I ever got? ‘Only connect …’ E.M. Forster.” Find out more at http://www.maryltabor.com


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Mary Tabor

I’m the author of the novel Who by Fire, the memoir (Re)Making Love: a sex after sixty story and The Woman Who Never Cooked, which won Mid-List Press’s First Series Award. I graduated from high school and went to college when I was barely sixteen. I always think I am the youngest person in the room—am trying to get over that—or maybe not because I have so much to learn.

You can read more about the so-called literal biography, where I went to school and jobs I’ve held, at http://maryltabor.com but one thing’s for sure: I believe love is the answer. Now, what was the question? In this column, I’ll try to figure that out with you.


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