My Full Time Mom

I must call and tell her I’m on my way.

Tremulous, I can’t recall her number.

Awakening with a sense of loss as palpable

as the searing pain of a phantom limb I

realize she died years ago taking with her

the granite plinth that supported our home.

Widowed, she sat in her kitchen with the

yellow linoleum floor, watching soaps.

Afternoon she sat on the co-op bench glued

to news on a transistor, waiting for Saturday

night to sing along with Lawrence Welk,

while crocheting afghans with color-blind

designs, a jarring hodge-podge of orange,

grape, green, pink and black.

A ready hand for a fevered brow, she served as

midwife when more babies came, kept clothes

scrubbed washboard clean, diapers too,

hauling clotheslines back and forth till

sheets and clothes lined up in size places

were dried with sun-kissed fragrance.

She’d pry open stuck windows repairing dead

weight lead sashes as quickly as she plunged

the toilet when it refused to yield.

A whirlwind homemaker, baked our bread,

chopped liver in a wooden bowl, a Flamenco

dance without castanets.

Her turkey dinners featured sweet potatoes

oozing karo syrup and melted marshmallows.

On holidays she adorned crystal dishes

with new sour green pickles and jumbo

green olives stuffed with red pimientos.

Her recurring mantra:

“It’s only from the left-overs that makes you fat!”

Her ample girth reflected how much she loved

to bake. I can almost sniff the scrumptious scent

wafting in from her pantry shelf of apple pie,

honey cake and poppy-seed cookies.

Visiting her in the ICU after major surgery

the first thing that she asked:

“Have you had your lunch yet?”

M.P. Ehrlich