"I Was Her Moon": A Poem for Mother's Day by Rhina Espaillat
On this gloriously beautiful Mother's Day, I present to you one of the poems I love best. Though this mournful poem by Rhina Espaillat is about her mother's Alzheimer's disease, at its heart it's also about so much more: the ways in which our mothers teach us language and, in doing so, shape the way we see the world--the ways in which even an adult child is still his or her mother's moon.
She still remembers me, she strokes my face.She made me in her body's deepest place
and fed me from herself. I was her moon.
I comb her hair and feed her with a spoon
and dress her in clean clothes. She understands;
she pats her empty purse with eager hands
and walks about the grounds with me. She knows
but cannot always say this is a rose.
The words she taught me are the shapes I see:
because she spoke the sun, it came to be;
she called me out of nothing and I came.
Will I still be when she forgets my name?