My mother, over and over again

My mother, over and over again

What irritates me

How my mother can tell the same story

with the exact same detail

over and over as if it is new news.

 

How even she maintains an interest

for the fifth rendition

of her sister’s ham biscuit recipe

 

And of her brother’s-in-law white leg

showing because he won’t wear

over-the-calf socks “as every gentleman should.”

 

How she agonizes over every decision

especially a lie to tell a hostess

why she has to leave the party early

or to tell a man at church

she doesn’t want to go out with him.

 

How she had a gift of jewelry

from a suitor

appraised so she would know

how thankful and interested she should be.

 

What astonishes me is

how over my life

she has acquainted me with beauty:

Handel’s Messiah,

narcissus blooming indoors every winter,

angel candles on the mantelpiece

and elves that climb up lamps.

 

What astonishes me is how

she found hope and new life

in her young son’s death at 20.

 

And how she dignified

her alcoholic father’s life

by listening to his stories

over and over again.

 

How she didn’t have a mother

past age 24 to watch over her children,

to bake for her Christmas and

how she didn’t have a mother

to tell her about her life

over and over again.