Poetry Club, day 16

Last week of Poetry Club, friends! I’m so happy everyone has played along.

In some ways Julia Kasdorf was the inspiration behind The Joy of Poetry. I took a workshop with her at Laity Lodge years ago, where I met one poet who became a friend, Sandra Heska King, and another who became a publisher, L.L. Barkat.

When I read this poem at The Writer’s Almanac, I printed it because it shows a mother’s weakness and a child’s response to it. There is so much more to this mother-child story than is explained in the poem. The bats in the office — really, bats? — suggest something darker than a flying mammal. The hope is in the beginning of the poem, that somehow all that the child has suffered will mean something “years from now.”

 

Years From Now When You Are Weary 

 

and worn out, wondering how you’ll pay

a bill or make the rent or meet a deadline

 

set by some thoughtless boss—and kid,

such days will come—remember yourself

 

at five: hair light from the sun or just from

being young, new lunchbox pasted

 

with butterflies, how you hung your backpack

on a hook, then wouldn’t let me take your picture

 

on the first day of school, sending me

out of that classroom, to the car, to my job

 

where a pair of bats flapped in the hallway.

Bats may be just bats, but one darted

 

into my office, quick as the boxer’s head

that bobs and weaves and never gets hit.

 

It landed and hung from the drapes, upside

down, as you hung in my body for a while.

 

Bats are not the only flying mammals.

That afternoon in line for the bus, you cried,

 

so tired you thought you’d fall asleep

and miss your stop. Years from now, child,

 

in some helpless dusk, remember that fatigue

but how you made it home to me anyway

 

in the care of a kind farmer—bus driver.

Recall that once I arrived late, your bus

 

gone, and when I found you, carefully seated

by a coffeepot in a corner of a dim garage

 

at the school bus lot, you just said, Let’s go,

Mama. Don’t tell anyone about this.

 

Julia Kasdorf

 

Your turn.

 

Comments

  1. Reminded me of my first day at a new school, at 6, how I didn’t know which bus to take home, lost sight of the girl I was supposed to stick with, and watched as all the buses pulled away. I sat down under a tree and waited. It was late October and almost dusk, around 5 o’clock, my mother pulled in.
    (Okay, got that out of my system.)

    This:
    “…remember that fatigue
    but how you made it home to me anyway…”

    Oh, golly. Tears.
    And:
    “…Let’s go,
    Mama. Don’t tell anyone about this.”

    The things we hope nobody finds out about….I think those turn out being the things of real substance in our lives. Just a theory I’ve been working on. I don’t have it all fleshed out.

  2. Just. Tears.

    This reminded me of Grace’s first day in kindergarten (a full day) when she didn’t get off the bus. And for a long time nobody could find her. She’d been riding around on the wrong bus that finally went back to the bus garage. Abby was nearly hysterical. Me, too. And Uncle Jeremy. We didn’t see her face until nearly 5:30.

    And you know what I think about bats. Maybe I should think about their deeper meaning in my life.

    Coming face-to-face with you was such a gift. I think you were still tender with your mom’s loss and I was about to face mine.

    And Marilyn, I wish we could rock some more on that Nebraska porch.

    • I am watching with expectancy for a gathering to attend. Signed up for one, but it was cancelled. Almost signed up for another. Was glad I didn’t since something arose that would have presented a schedule conflict. Something will present itself and it will be the right date and time and location and price.

    • Sandy, that’s heartbreaking. Poor Grace.