marci light face_edited.jpg

Monday Meditations

This week's poem, "Bathing Mother," was shortlisted for the annual O'Bheal 5-Word Challenge International Poetry Competition. About the poem, judge Maurice Riordan said, "‘Bathing Mother’ echoes John Donne’s ‘O my America, my new-found-land’ but how powerfully, indeed shockingly, it alters the erotic context and transforms it to raw physical vulnerability. And that switch is, well, also in a sense, erotic – or, as the poem puts it, is ‘something beyond intimacy’".  



The first time I bathed Mother

after the cancer’s heat carved the great

mountain of her (one I could never approach)


into a rutted hill of loose flesh and jutting

bone, I noticed for the first time the odd

angle of one rib, where some minute fracture—


falling against the bed post, leaning too hard

into a kitchen chair, or breathing—had dented

an otherwise smooth arc. I traced the rib


with a soapy hand, gently washed her back.

This new land! There, behind her knee,

a scar like a ragged star. Below her


disappearing breasts, a curtain of skin

where cancer had eaten up the muscle

and fat. The discoveries of this moment,


my mother soaked and naked, small,

afraid to look me in the eyes, was

something beyond intimacy. It was


mystery unveiling itself, it was a gasp

without sound, her final unspoken question

for me, one I will never be able to answer.