I’m thrilled to share a local poet’s work today. Kelli Russell Agodon’s website bio states that she “lives in small seaside community in Washington State.” Yes, she lives near me and she infuses the entire Pacific Northwest with her teaching skills. Lucky us! I’ve taken a generative poetry writing class taught by Kelli and Susan Rich; it was four hours full of inspiration that continues to feed my writing.
Today’s poem begs to be read aloud to your closest mom friends. They will laugh because these words hit our hearts, and our hearts say yes, yes, yes, that’s what it’s like to be a mother today. Enough. I’ll let the poem speak for itself.
Woman Under Glass (from the Exhibition of the Modern American Mother)
The woman wants to be the woman her family thought
she should be, but she doesn’t like cooking. She doesn’t
like cooking or other mothers or doing crafts. In fact,
she hates scrapbooking. She fucking hates scrapbooking.
The woman who wants to be the woman other people
want her to be doesn’t say fuck. She doesn’t say fuck.
or piss, or shit, or fuck. She understands words feed
and poison her. Continually and at the same time.
The woman who wants to be the woman she could be
is inconvenienced by the field trips and volunteering.
She thinks teachers should do their own filing. She thinks
there is a version of history with her name on it. A banner.
An award. What she does is feel resentful about pancakes
in the shape of Mickey Mouse. She knows Disney must have
hated mothers, must have hated every mother because
they all die in his movies. The woman who wants to be
the woman she wants to be loves her family. She knows
she doesn’t tell them enough, knows she’s running past
the breakfast table with a pen in her mouth and this
is not normal. Normal mothers make breakfast
and aren’t trying to write poems that question
the consequences of art and creativity. The woman
who wants to be the woman who is remembered
and not reminded of what she is not, is trying her best
even though it looks as if she is failing or falling or doing
a pretty good job or better than most. She is unsure
about her rank as mother or who is judging. She can hear
a few of the women in her family singing from the closets.
Or crying. She isn’t sure. She decides not to care
about ghosts or plans or cleaning windows or stereotypical
roles based on gender. She thinks this is easier to do
in her head. She sweeps and thinks. And thinks. This is her
downfall. This is how so many hands have themselves
wrapped around her neck, her waist. This is how
she’s been waltzed into too many messy ballrooms,
so dizzy from spinning, she blames no one but herself
for not believing she knew the steps, but for seeing
the sunrise through the curtains in the window
and never believing there could be light.