For Mama: Family Poem, by Stacy Torian

Four years ago, my mom asked me to write a poem for the family reunion gathering. I do not typically write poems on a schedule, but you have to make exceptions where your mama is concerned. With it being Mother’s Day weekend, I wanted to honor my mother by posting the poem here.

Family Poem (for Mama)

(originally posted on this website’s Weekly Wafer page on August 6, 2017)

Long before you are born

Your family’s eyes and hands are running all over you

Studying your mama’s belly

Trying to decide if you are a boy or a girl.

When you are little, the family is squatting, asking you your name

And what you learned in school

Smiling at you and telling you how cute you are

Then looking past your cuteness

And hunting for bits and pieces of themselves

In your gestures and your speech,

Asking where the dimples came from and how long you will keep that baby hair.

Family knows your hair, your toes, and everything else

Everything you spend the rest of your life hiding from the rest of the world

Your family must know

So that you won’t forget it.

A family survives by telling stories that no one else thinks are important,

In places where no one else can hear them

Guarding them with their lives and their hearts.

Family hold you back, then push you forward

When you see yourself falling

They see you

Stumbling and splitting your forehead on a coffee table corner

And they remember how you cried when that happened –

Yes, you did cry, but you got up first –

Your family believes in you.

They remind you of the life you are busy forgetting in your

Bustling and your fleeing, in your hunger for freedom.

Your family teaches you the meaning of freedom.

When they let you go,

Things open up for you and things die right in front of you

You lose things and you can’t get them back,

You break things and you can’t put them back together,

And you can’t fault mama and daddy, or my sister that, or my brother so-and-so,

You have to learn to fail on your own, get mad on your own, face yourself on your own.

When your dreams turn their backs on you

Your family kisses you and gives you a bed and tells you everything is gonna be alright

And for them everything is alright, because you are with them

And you mean more to them than a whole world of dreams.

A family will wait 20 years for you to come home

Will remember all your names

A family can stomach strong smells and dirty hair

They can take your being rude

They can handle that awful mess you made

As long as you don’t lie about it

You will hurt them

But they will heal

You may push them away

But they will pull you back

No matter how far you run

Or how you acted that day

You have a home

Among these faces

Inside these hugs

And these hands

The hands you have held and let go

These are the hands of the people who have missed and waited for you

The people you have sometimes forgotten, sometimes remembered, and always loved

These people are your birthright

They are your family.


Copyright © 2017 Stacy Torian. All rights reserved.

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