Not Exactly a Hallmark Card, Mother

by Nancy King

As part of a course in spirituality, we were asked to create a card for Mother’s Day in ten minutes or less. The words tumbled out unbidden. Uncensored. I showed it to the course leader and told her, “It’s not exactly a Hallmark card so if you feel it’s not appropriate for me to read it to the group, that’s okay.”

She read it, stared at me for a moment, and then said, “There are all kinds of mothers in this world. We need to honor each child’s experience.”

The first three Mother’s Day cards were full of love and thank you and gratitude and blessings. It was time to read mine.

What card do I send to my mother?

My mother holds her baby’s head beneath the waves

The ocean cannot bear to look.

Vomits waves to break her hold.

Swims a lifeguard to the child.

Returns the baby to her mother.

My mother smiles coquettishly. Says, “Thank you.”

Screams at the child, "Why don't you die?"

What card do I send to my mother?

My mother breaks a board upon her daughter’s body.

The child does not protest.

Ignores the blood that pours upon the carpet.

My mother screams, “You'll never tell.”

Pushes the child down the stairs.

The crowd gathers.

Sees my mother's tears.

What card do I send to my mother?

My mother screams.

The child stands.

Then runs.

Mother chases.

Slams the child against the floor.

Bangs the head against the floor.

Chokes the childish sounds and breath.

My father opens the door.

Home earlier than planned.

Runs to my mother.

What card do I send to my mother?

The body is numb.

The voice is silenced.

Happy Mother's Day, Mother.

On this day I want to tell you.

The time of soul killing is ended.

I choose to live.

After I read the poem, amidst the silence, out of the corner of my eye, I saw a group member move toward me. I covered my head with my arms and crouched down, waiting for the first blow.

“Nancy, it’s me, Sarah. I came to give you a hug.”

Nancy King has written many books and articles dealing with imagination, creativity, drama, and literacy. You can read the first pages of her novels: A Woman Walking, Morning Light, and The Stones Speak. on her website: Her books can be purchased from her website or ordered by local bookstores.

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