My Mother and I, Together RSS

My Mother and I, Together

27 April, 2015: My Mother and I, Together

READ A POEM

by Rita Grabowski
My Mother and I, Together
I am wearing short, white, cotton gloves
and a pink nylon dress with a petticoat
that would shred cabbage.
On the ramp landings of Public Hall
are stands that sell refreshments.
They call it Claret Punch —
toutes des fruits, over thick half-moons
of ice, heavy as lead crystal.
I am eight, or nine,
my mother and I, together.
 
The same mother who, a few years later,
would shoplift the dresses she couldn’t afford
as I went with her to the fitting room.
She held her finger to her lips,
thinking, perhaps, that I wanted to scream,
while she rolled, folded, and stuffed;
the mother who would move men
into the house I worked to keep;
one fell drunken, smoking, asleep,
setting the mattress on fire;
one fed mother’s French Bull Terrier
bits of broken lightbulb mixed with Alpo.
 
The same mother who almost seemed to brag
about how she expected a boy,
how she ate can after can of Vienna sausage
while pregnant with me.
There was only so much I could do.
Even scalding water and Lysol douches
refused to disinfect.
 
“My Mother and I, Together,” by Rita Grabowski, from My Life as a Nerve. Pudding House Press, 2001. Used by permission of the author.
 
ABOUT TODAY’S POET
Rita Grabowski is a double alumna of Cleveland State University, and a NEOMFA student working on her nonfiction thesis to complete her MFA in creative writing. She is the author of a poetry chapbook, My Life as a Nerve (Pudding House Press, 2001), and has published poetry and prose in a number of journals and anthologies. Currently working for the Doctoral Studies Program in the College of Education and Human Services at Cleveland State University, she has also owned a restaurant with her husband Gary, has written and published numerous restaurant reviews and food related articles and features, and worked for the Cleveland State University Poetry Center.
 

WRITE A POEM

Memories make great poetry.

Write about a shopping trip you took with one of your parents or grandparents or with a childhood friend. Try to pinpoint the year it took place and include something in the poem from that year which no longer exists.
 
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READ + WRITE: 30 Days of Poetry is a collaboration between Cuyahoga County Public Library and poet Diane Kendig. Our thanks go to Diane and the poets of Northeast Ohio who allowed us to share their poetry.