Their Perfect Mother
Their mother moved like a glacier, her inexorable slide
an icy scrub across the landscape of the family,
a chilled abrasion that polished edges into smiles
and made teeth align. In her implacable patience,
she ground everything into submission, scraped each fault,
each blemish into smooth and perfect beauty, and no one
complained about her methods, about her slow and steady
re-making, about the wounds she left behind. She made
such tiny tight stitches where she sliced some proclivity
unwanted from skin or soul or heart no scar ever showed
to naked, untrained eye. With truss and brace and leather strap
she straightened spine and straitened attitude, and no red welt,
no discoloration beaconed forth the changes she imposed.
A woman much admired for calmest, coolest grace, their mother
never raised her voice yet raised three perfect-seeming children
who only visited her or called on special holidays.
I have myself the hammer been, a head
of hardened steel that knows only pounding
and repetition, that eschews finesse
and subtlety as trickery, deceit.
See the nail. Hit the nail. Why would I sneak
up like a cat, its belly pressed to the ground,
and inch on, waiting, watching before the pounce?
Why look away and feign indifference,
affect a regal boredom, ignore the nail?
No. Be direct and strike and strike again
and send the nail home. Strike. Nail done. Nail solved.
As hammer I ask neither man or hand
to address the nail, nor do I myself
ask the nail how it would be struck or when
or where or to what end. As hammer I
do not collaborate or ask advice
or make a plan. I pound and pound and pound.
Cecil Morris retired after 37 years teaching high school English, and now he tries writing what he formerly taught students to read and, possibly, enjoy. He has had a handful of poems published in 2River View, Cobalt Review, The Ekphrastic Review, Evening Street Review, Hole in the Head Review, The Midwest Quarterly, The Talking River Review, and other literary magazines.