Sunday, May 11, 2014

No Fragile Heaven

This poem was printed on the cover of the service leaflet at the Unitarian Church on Mother's Day, a long time ago:


if there are any heavens my mother will(all by herself)have
one. It will not be a pansy heaven nor
a fragile heaven of lilies-of-the-valley but
it will be a heaven of blackred roses

my father will be(deep like a rose
tall like a rose)

standing near my

(swaying over her
with eyes which are really petals and see

nothing with the face of a poet really which
is a flower and not a face with
which whisper
This is my beloved my

(suddenly in sunlight

he will bow,

& the whole garden will bow)

--e.e. cummings

That day began my lifelong love of e.e. cummings.

On the other hand, the poem itself was just embarrassing. I was in elementary school, and the relationship described between the father and the mother was too intimate for me to process. It came at me with a brilliance that hurt my eyes and made me look away. And it was certainly nothing like my parents who mostly coexisted, bickered, sometimes joked and very rarely hugged.

One thing stuck with me: no fragile heaven. So, so true. My mother loomed large in my world and in our family. For good or ill, there was nothing fragile about her. And so a heaven of blackred roses it would surely be.

As I wrote last year, Mother's Day is complicated for me. I try to focus on the blessing of getting to be a mother. It is the great joy of my life. As for my own mother, I can look back with the perspective of adulthood and see how difficult it was for her. She was a wounded bird who had to be a warrior; there was no rest from the struggle.

So, I wish for her whatever heaven she would have wanted, surrounded by the love and peace she always longed for.



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