Jul/Aug 2004 Poetry Special Feature

Sometimes Mothers are Insane

by Liz Bruno

Sometimes Mothers are Insane

Often I am surrounded
by noises
that cannot be shushed

He wants more milk,
more pretzels,
more books to be read,
more space

to expand his energy.
He wants.

His arms and legs
stream through
the living room
like four bright kites,

and I am the wind
that carries him.
I am the cotton stitches
that hold him together.

Some mornings are peaceful.
When the sun stretches her legs
through the windows,
I feel my own legs wanting

to be busy, productive.
I wake him up gently,
Uriah, it's time to wake

up, I say.
And I am patient.
There's still time
for breakfast and showers.

There's time to move
through this house gradually,
like a feral cub awakening
from a long hibernation.

Not all mornings
are like this.
There are mornings
when it seems too much

to move through
this expanse of house.

The sound of his tiny
feet galloping up
the stairs feels
like a cruel intrusion

of my space, my sanity.
I want to make myself
invisible, transparent perhaps.
Still I pull myself

out of bed and tell myself
that a cup of coffee
will do its magic.
Mornings like this,

the clocks have swift
hands, snapping
their fingers: Hurry up!

And I stumble
over myself trying.

The evenings hold
similar contrasts.
Some settle in easy,

I cook,
clip fresh oregano
and basil for the meat,
their green leaves

taking shape beneath
my fingernails.
And he plays quietly
in his room,

using erasers to sketch
new doorways.
I call him in for dinner
and he sits,

his tiny legs swinging
under the table
like miniature hammocks.
I tell him how well

he's eating.
He tells me he wants
to be an astronaut.

he'll build stairs
that will take him
inside the moon.
Other evenings

I am spent.
My patience performs
a disappearing act,
like some magician's

sleight of hand.
I tiptoe through the house,
opening drawers
and lifting the tops

of teakettles to find it,
my lips chapped
from biting.
His wants seem

ridiculous, irrational.
I want to tuck him
away in a soundproof
box and say, shhhhh!


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