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MENDING MOTHER by Leslie Caplan

I have come a long way to be able to write this poem, to cellularly feel and breath the words as deep as any truth of mine can be...

I was born to a volatile mother, a rageaholic. She broke my heart in a thousand ways and then... she took her life. I spent years angry at her, not necessarily at her death, but at the life I was fated to live with her. I needed to heal my mother wound. It was 'do or die'. My inner child ached inside the woman I was becoming and the mother to my son that I longed to be. Healing that wound was no easy road. I wrote my anger onto a thousand pages with my left hand, my right hand, I wrote until my hands cramped and the pages ripped. 

One day I asked my grandmother to send me photos of my mother when she was young. I knew that if I could just access her innocence, I would be able to forgive her. We all start out innocent until something comes along and twists our souls into torment, like it did with my mom. Her only way out was to take her life. My only way out was to write until forgiveness became the very heart of me. My way out was going in; to become the woman that my mother was meant to be had she been strong enough to be it. 

Mending Mother 
by Leslie Caplan

I found a photograph at the bottom
of an unopened box
Crackling cardboard dried out from
being rained on
I reached in
Sifting through old letters,
scrawls of random thoughts,
poems that turned into
a thousand page book

I poured it out
onto the open floor
let the air in
let the stream of yellow light
spill in
and wrap around each keepsake

At the bottom,
under the fold and crease where the box
holds itself together
was a picture
At first I thought it was me
But it was you
as a young, budding woman 
in a black and white capture
of your innocence 
How hopeful your eyes gleaned 
how deep the longing for what's ahead

I held the photo in my hand
sat under the window and let the light
magnify your face
I saw myself
The face of the womb in which I grew
before I was even a thought
in your world
So long before an injection of insane
came in and corrupted your radiant youth
and the palpable wisdom
held in the cup your hand

So young and ivory skinned
Plump in cheeks and heart
And even though the picture was black and white
I saw the rosy tint of freshness
on your face
Your rich light almond eyes
I could see right through

You were lovely.

To the core of my holding
Soft before the world you inhaled
made you bitter to a pucker
Your hands mirrored mine
The shape of your brow
the shine of your lips long before
they dried out from all the salted cries you swallowed

You were beautiful.

I looked deeper in
aching to abyss to understand
And I understood
That somewhere along that paved line of your life
your heart caved
and shattered into too many pieces
to pick up and put back together
and you had to pretend
to be unbroken
pretend to love the man you married
and bore three daughters with
that you pretended you knew what to do with

And all you could do
was raise them inside
the shattered chamber you held together
for the sake of their survival
praying they'd thrive
in spite you

and I did.

I can speak for myself and say I did
And I took what was good in you
sane and whole in you
and I found my way
with what you did give me


and eyes so deep they blink 
off the stillness of a photograph
and shed a tear so fertile
it grows life
mends and heals and breathes into
my whole life
within and without you 
my life in honor
of you.

Leslie Caplan is a passionate writer and has been published internationally. She is a professional Writing Coach and editor who encourages and evokes the strongest, deepest expression of the writer's voice and heart.  She also facilitates writing workshops where writing is used as a tool for revealing and healing.  She lives in the small town of Ashland, Oregon and you can connect with her on her website here. 

~If you are interested in seeing your poetry appear in this blog, or submitting a poem by a woman that has inspired you, please click here for submission guidelines. I greatly look forward to hearing from you!~


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