Today from http://www.napowrimo.net: “I challenge you to write a “loveless” love poem. Don’t use the word love! And avoid the flowers and rainbows.” So here’s a love poem about my mother and father for which I tried to avoid cliché and all the other various love poem traps.
I think of my mother
massaging my father’s scalp
as they listened to music
together in the family room,
he, sitting on the floor,
my mom on the couch,
moving those fingers through
his thick, white hair.
She’d sometimes shampoo
his hair in the kitchen sink.
I don’t know why he couldn’t
or didn’t shampoo his own hair.
My wife has never shampooed
my hair in the kitchen sink.
This was a sign, I think,
of her deepest, abiding affection,
her way of taking care, a selflessness for
which my mother was a consummate
expert. When I think of my parents’
relationship over the decades,
sure, every now and then I remember
their conflicts, their arguments,
the ones that, as a child, sometimes
could stir fear in me, or worry;
as the youngest child, siblings all
out of the house by the time I was teen,
my parents were my world
and the thought of being without
them together was terrifying.
But these were rare moments;
in the grand scheme of their sixty
years together before my father’s death,
their squabbles become inconsequential,
infinitesimal stacked alongside a
thousand signs and gestures of
tenderness; the scalp messages,
the shampoo in the sink, my mother’s kisses
as my father was wheeled into
his final surgery.