Thread My Mother Gave Me

My mother had me collect flowers from the yard

There I would run, her eyes watching me

Distracted by some falling feather

She would place my ixoras and ginger lilies

As adornments to our food

Collected especially for our guests

 

Now I hand her other flowers

Offerings to her

Collected and pressed

Into mere memories of what they once were

 

My mother has a box of thread

She makes small stitches

She counts out colours

Each suture adds to an image only she can see

Her cross-stitch labouring her eyes

And shoulders

 

She said cotton was the best fabric

For our brown skin to breathe

I was distracted by the smooth

Softness of silk

 

My mother has a large brown bowl

In it she bakes her cakes

She bakes her bread

Her mother’s voice directs her

Through every step

I have watched her

 

At first with eyes that could barely see over

The cool counter top, and later

I help knead her dough into bread

As she must have (done)

With her mother

I am becoming my mother

I stitch these threads together

With the fabric that binds her to me

Terrified by the end

Of the spool

 

My mother wrote poems for me

Watched me forty thousand hours

And some

But now my gaze turns back to her

Black coils adorn her head

Her crown tinged with grey,

 

at the temples

While her hand drifts quickly across the paper

Forming thoughts I wish

To hear her speak forever

© 2020 Kathleen McDonald

West Indies | California SF Bay Area