the end of mother’s day

May 13th, 2012

Someone sent me something that renders me mute with gratitude.

by Susan Mitchell

Because it is windy, a woman
finds her clothesline bare, and without rancor
unpins the light, folding it into her basket.
The light is still wet. So she irons it.
The iron hisses and hums. It knows how to make the best of things.
The woman’s hands smell clean. When she shakes them out,
they are voluminous, white.

All night my hands weep in gratitude
for little things. That feet are not shoes.
That blackbirds are eating the raspberries. That parsley
does not taste like bread.

From now on I want to live
only by grace. In other words, not to deserve things.
Without rancor, the light dives down
among the turnips. I eat it with my stew.

Today the woman’s hands smell like roots. When she
shakes them out, they are voluminous, green.
All day they shade me
from the sun. The blackbirds have come to sit in them.
Since this morning, the wind has been enough.

Image above is “Clothesline,” a painting by Heather Horton.

Subscribe to my newsletter • Come to a retreat • Facebook me • Follow me.


  1. Beautiful poem. Happy Mother’s Day!

    Comment by Meg — May 13, 2012 @ 7:26 am

  2. Wow. Stunning poem. To be the kind of mother, woman, human being that “unpins the light” instead of moaning about something lacking…I imagine that kind of gratitude equals true happiness for her and those around her. Thank you for this inspiration.

    Susan Mitchell’s ability to put words together to unleash this concept on our hearts is a true Mother’s Day gift.

    Comment by Shannon Esposito — May 13, 2012 @ 7:51 am

  3. I passed on your gratitude and mine to my (our) teacher.

    Comment by Michelle — May 13, 2012 @ 8:29 am

  4. Any poem that works in turnips is A-OK with me. Thank you.

    Comment by Bobbi — May 14, 2012 @ 1:56 am

  5. Thank you. I’m all tears.

    Comment by Nichole — May 14, 2012 @ 2:13 pm

  6. Love the poem, and love love love Susan Mitchell. I had a workshop with her once, and she got me to go to grad school in my 30s. Love her.

    Comment by Tara — May 14, 2012 @ 4:11 pm

RSS feed for comments on this post. TrackBack URL

Leave a comment

archives by month