If I could un-speak all of the times that I told my children to hurry when they were little, I would. But it has taken me years of mothering my children to realize that each phase is special and that like a good meal or an amazing sunset, those moments shared with children are precious. I wish that I had a bank account where I could withdraw just a few of the moments when we hurried from one place to the next and somehow share them with my kids again. But it is only now that all of those moments are passed that I realize their full import. And sometimes, it takes a poet’s voice to capture our folly.
I heard such a let last week when Marie Howe read at the Blackbird Poetry Festival at Howard Community College. The Blackbird Poetry Festival has been presenting renowned poets for the past several years, and Marie Howe gave two wonderful readings as part of the festival. I remember hearing her read this poem on the radio a few months back, and it seemed perfect for sharing on Mother’s Day. Happy Mother’s Day, everyone. I hope you have a grand day of celebration with your families.
We stop at the dry cleaners and the grocery store
and the gas station and the green market and
Hurry up honey, I say, hurry,
as she runs along two or three steps behind me
her blue jacket unzipped and her socks rolled down.
Where do I want her to hurry to? To her grave?
To mine? Where one day she might stand all grown?
Today, when all the errands are finally done, I say to her,
Honey I’m sorry I keep saying Hurry—
you walk ahead of me. You be the mother.
And, Hurry up, she says, over her shoulder, looking
back at me, laughing. Hurry up now darling, she says,
hurry, hurry, taking the house keys from my hands.
Poem copyright ©2008 by Marie Howe, and reprinted from “When She Named Fire,” ed., Andrea Hollander Budy, Autumn House Press, 2009. First published in “The Kingdom of the Ordinary” by Marie Howe, W.W. Norton, 2008. Used by permission of Marie Howe and the publisher.