What’s Left is a chapbook of mother-daughter poetry, published this month by Green Fuse Poetic Arts. It includes nine of my mother’s poems and nine of mine. I will be reading from this book on Tuesday, April 17, 5:30, at The Book Haven in Salida. And I’ll also be giving a reading and mother-daughter discussion at The Book Nook in Buena Vista, CO, from 4:00 – 6:00, on April 27.
My mom, Louise Weber, died in 1997. Below is a photo of us when I was twelve and she was forty-five. She was a poet, an artist, and a registered nurse. I was her only kid. As a result of being an “only” and who knows for what other reasons, I didn’t fully appreciate her as the gem she was, until much later.
As a teenager and young adult, I blamed all my shortcomings on her–but never told her. I just held my resentments in my gut. On the other hand, I cherished her warm personality, her love for me and all creatures large and small. I envied her wisdom and her encyclopedic knowledge from reading stacks of meaty books.
In 2010, I published a memoir about our relationship, I’ll Be There To Write the Story: A Mother-Daughter Journey Beyond Death. It’s a story of the magical glue that held us together, while her 1950s parenting style drove us apart. It shows how poetry and art helped to heal our unfinished business after she was on “the other side.”
What’s Left is a companion book to the memoir. When I began writing I’ll Be There to Write the Story, it was to going to be a book of Louise’s poetry. Then I wrote poetry back to some of Louise’s poems – the ones that rankled my fur. Writing these argumentative poems – 30 of them – helped me get over the snit with Mom and to finally love her without reservation. I learned that healing of a relationship can happen after one of the individuals has passed on. The memoir was born as I documented this journey of healing.
In 2011, I offered my collection of mother-daughter poems to Green Fuse Poetic Arts. Editor Katherine West made her selection (18 out of 30). What’s Left shows two individuals, sometimes in dialog, sometimes expressing independently, but always exemplifying two personalities bonded by blood and separated by thirty-three years.
My poem, “What’s Left” is on the back cover:
The mineral kingdom is all I have
left of you.
Reduced to ash,
you sleep in a pewter box
with tumbled stones
embedded in the lid
next to my computer.
The rest of you flows downstream
toward the Atlantic–
except your rocks–
raw specimens of amethyst,
rose quartz, turquoise, epidote
that once held up
your books and weighted
papers on your writing desk–
they bask by my front door in the Colorado sun.