On My Mother's Birthday
My mother is a pair of hands first; a blurred figure, a face I tilt my neck back to see. The flash of a smile, a pair of arms that reach around me and lift.
She is catnip and fresh turned earth from the garden, oriental perfume, acrylic paint and farmhouse dinners.
She is forgotten medical masks that have gone through the wash and ended up in little balls that smell of fabric softener.
She is the voice in the kitchen, calling out, speaking though I'm too far away to make out the words.
She is the body that I have taken for granted as my own - an extension of myself as much as I am an extension of her. The lap I crawled into when sick, the hand I held when afraid, the feet that carried me when I was too tired to walk, a shoulder to rest against, and a spine of steel in defense.
She is the first call.
She built my childhood - a doll named Sarah with button eyes and a rosebud mouth, a periwinkle dollhouse with floral wallpaper and lace curtains, summer clothes in green with floral appliqué, and homemade Holloween costumes. The birthday cakes and endless band aids. She supplied tea parties and dress up clothes, tolerated a sea of squealing girls for sleepovers and helped choose my first pair of glasses.
"I love you grain elevators full, miles high, city blocks long."