Mothering (revised)

Note: A poetic reflection in anticipation of Mother’s Day first posted on Wednesday, May 9, 2018; revised for this Mother’s Day, May 10. 2020.



(for, so, from my childhood,
now, lo, to and through many years
of watching, witnessing,
it seems to me)

is what mothers do
in designing home for
(whether from their wombs borne
or by others bestowed)
their children.

Home –
the seed of hope’s dreaming,
then, when built, the fruit of faith’s intention,
and wisdom’s intuition:

with how firm a foundation
on which children, in confidence, test and stand, and
on which their curiosity, adored, dances
and their questions are respected, expected and explored;
“Why?” being honored as a favored word; and

with walls
adorned with portraits of history and memory,
such visual remembrances grounding imagination’s young eyes
when peering through windows of contemplation
abroad onto the wider horizons of experiment’s anticipation
(and soon-enough-to-be discovery’s own experience); and

with ceilings, not of limitation,
but of protection from life’s elemental hurts,
toward which to gaze
projecting visions of exploration, and,
in trusting the presence of Infinite Love above,
ever learning, believing
that never one’s self is the highest point.

it seems to me,
is what mothers do:
Designing, building homes where children there
(always wishing, too)
ever abide in the heart of love’s care…

But sorrowfully anew,
sorely, we, too,
brutally are reminded
that some mothers’ wishes
are harder-and-hardest-pressed to come true.
As mothers of other hues –
red and yellow and brown and black –
daily must pray for might
to face down society’s ravening animals of animus
that their children might not become prey.

If, as damnably demonstrably true this is,
then what must, what will we do
that every mothering wish has a chance to be,
to become true?

7 thoughts on “Mothering (revised)

  1. Dear Paul,

    Your poem is the first thing I read this Mother’s Day morning, and I thank and bless you for the intersection of hope and shattering truth it occupies. Your warm image of the home nearly every mother would like to build for her children and the cold fragility of that hope for so many mothers because of the crass realities tied to perceptions of race and skin color in our country (and in the wider world as well) are, tragically, accurate. I awoke this morning with those very thoughts in my mind.

    This stark time of pandemic we are traversing is casting the harshest spotlight on a shameful divide. To allow what is being illuminated to go conveniently unnoticed and officially unaddressed would constitute an even greater tragedy than the disease and the economic chaos it is causing. And yet we are under leadership that is doing just that. Our voices seem so small, but we must use them to cry out against the perpetual travesty of unequal protection of lives, livelihoods, and futures, present since the beginning of this nation, but now laid coldly and cleanly bare in our “great again” 21st century America. I found this Atlantic article to be about as clear a statement of where we find ourselves as anything I have recently read: I have been sharing it in hopes that eyes that have been either purposefully or simply conveniently closed may be opened to see the light COVID-19 is shedding on us.

    May all the wise and loving, past and present mothering figures in our lives surround us today and nurture a resolve not to waste the opportunity we have been given to offer a different future to mothers of color and their children.




  2. Thank you, Karen, always and in all ways, for your vulnerability, your honesty, and your passion inspire, aye, re-inspire me…

    These days – as has been true of times, many times past – are difficult. Pontheolla and I (spending more time together in quarantine and, blessedly, knowing of our love, one for the other, have rediscovered how profoundly [because of and, at times, in spite of who we are] like each other) have looked into life’s abyss, reopened with the slaying of Ahmaud Arbery and have wept. Some of our words about the ways things are have been angry. Some, despairing. Is there no end to this society, culture, land, America, world of disparity? Is there no end to killing with impunity? Is there no end to the blindness of justice (and not meant positively) when the perpetrator is white?

    Mr. Arbery’s death, coupled with what the pandemic has exposed about our age-old, damnably ageless and ever-new disparities of care and compassion along the lines of race and class and age and…on and on, sicken us. On this point of the pandemic, only yesterday, I had read Mr. Serwer’s article. May response: An awareness of a renewed and deep ache, a revulsion in my bowels…

    So, yesterday I cried. Today, I weep. Through it all, I wonder without words, only sighs, cries too deep for sense, trusting that the Spirit carries my anguish heavenward.

    Love to you, Ted, and Emilia, from Pontheolla and me,


  3. Dear Paul,

    Thank you for your response. Although we know we cannot experience the ache and the revulsion as directly and as intimately as you and Pontheolla do, please know that Ted, Emilia, and I share in your tears, sighs, and anguish. We too pray that the Spirit that without a doubt carries them heavenward also works here below to drive the anguish deep into the collective heart of this society in order to bring about great, transformative change in that heart.

    I think of you and Pontheolla often and offer prayers for you and for Clevedale as we all traverse these days.

    Much love to both of you from the three of us,



  4. Thank you, dearest sister. We love you, each and all three of you, as I’m wont to say (of the manifold things I’m wont to say!), to the moon and beyond (for anyone can go [and many have gone!] to the moon and back!).

    And, I bid you look up Cameron Wiggins Bellm. She and her family, her husband and two sons, live in Seattle. I came by her via a post of a poem she had written regarding the pandemic. As I’m wont to do, I wanted to know more and Googled her; discovering that she has a doctorate in Russian literature, yet, for the time, she has withdrawn from the world of academe to explore Christian spirituality, especially being a follower of Ignatian spirituality. I find her poetry illuminating and penetrating, eloquent and evocative.

    One other thing, my dearest sister… Today, our daughter, Kristin, and I talked at length, among many things, about the words and actions of our white friends during this current (historically ongoing) moment of racial indignity and unrest. I spoke of you as one who, with a depth of compassion and a breadth of exquisite sensitivity, opens her heart and mind, soul and spirit to the experience of others in a way that is honest and treasured. Thank you, thank you, thank you. I thank God for you.



    1. Dearest Paul,

      Thank you so much for alerting me to Cameron Wiggins Bellm and her poetry. I had not yet heard about her “Prayer for a Pandemic,“ but it is one of the purest expressions of love and understanding in this time that I have seen since we were overtaken by COVID-19 and its consequences weeks ago. I will certainly pass it on.

      As for your conversation with Kristin, first, I hope and trust that she is well and safe, and I pray that she remains so. Second, I am humbled by your words; I could ask for no greater honor and no greater friend to offer it. I will strive now evermore to be worthy of your regard. I’ve always felt that if I can promote and support in any small way the great healing and reconciliation that must take place in the American soul over the injustices and divisions that are rooted in race, my life will not have been in vain.

      Thank you, Paul, for helping make this Mother’s Day such a reflective one for me. Emilia made a brief visit to drop off a sweet lilac bouquet, homemade scones, and groceries. So, with our colloquy, my day has already been full, rich, and thoughtful. I wish you and dear Pontheolla such a day as well.

      Again, love, gratitude, and sweet peace to you, my dear friend,



  5. What an AMAZING post Paul as well as Karen’s response!! I’ll just echo what Karen said!!

    Much love to you all!! ❤️❤️



    1. Thank you, again, Karen, and thank you, Loretta. This particular poem – again, which I initially posted in 2018 – in light of current and ongoing circumstances cried out to be revised. The act of revision, taking most of yesterday. So anguished a time – locally, regionally, nationally, globally; individually and communally – in which we live and move and have our being. As the olden Portuguese rallying cry had/has it: A luta continua… (the struggle continues).

      Praying you remain well.



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