THE WHITMAN ISSUE
MY MOTHER'S WHITMAN
During the long hot summers when what passed
for education ceased and I complained
of boredom, my mother would take down
her copy of Leaves of Grass, offering me
lines that had comforted her soul during the brooding
Depression years, brought glistening words into
her hurried subway rides to night school as she
tried to escape. I would gaze at a sentence or two,
but could not enter 'The pressure that makes man drunk'...
'the myriad thence-arouse'd words...' The poet
bid me 'answer'; my mother bid me hear her world.
I could not--could not imagine a life in his same city,
taking the same roads, listening to rain between
the same green islands, wandering along his broad
Potomac shores. I could not imagine that I, too,
would spend years in classrooms with too much talk--
much of it my own--with charts and diagrams
and students in columns until I, too, became tired
and sick and wandered out into cool air under
mysterious stars. They are gone now--
the classrooms, the singer sauntering into darkness;
the mother, reaching up towards memory's shelf
holding words light and dark, whispering of a uniter
of here and hereafter, his songs long and long...
Davi Walders's poetry and prose has appeared in more than 150 journals and anthologies. Her most recent collection of poems, Gifts, was commissioned by the Milton Murray Foundation for Philanthropy. She developed and directs the Vital Signs Poetry Project at the National Institutes of Health and its Children's Inn for patients and parents of children with life-threatening illnesses, funded by the Witter Bynner Foundation for Poetry. Her awards include a Maryland State Artists Grant in Poetry, an Alden B. Dow Creativity Fellowship, and a 2002 Hadassah of Greater Washington's Myrtle Wreath Award.
Published in Volume 6, Number 1, Winter 2004
To read more by this author:
Davi Walders: Langston Hughes Tribute Issue
Davi Walders: Poets in Federal Government Issue