My mother has been on my mind of late. With Mother’s day coming next month, I thought I’d devote this blog to her. She was born with a birthmark on her face. When she was eight, my grandmother took her to New York City where she was treated in hopes of fading the stain. It didn’t work. The following poem I wrote to detail what she went through.
Raspberry, blueberry, brandy red wine,
a devil’s mark the size of her hand
squats on the left side of her face,
making her scarred at birth.
Miscast as shy, she quietly hides
from children’s taunts and adults who
are unaware of her beauty within
as she continues to age.
A wooden box sits on her skin,
spewing rays through a tiny hole.
The radium will fade the unwanted spot,
promises made to a child of eight.
Raspberry, blueberry, brandy red wine remains
with intermittent rashes and bubbles of puss.
The wind bursts the boil and exposes raw flesh.
Mistakes are removed at eighteen.
Seven layers of flesh cut from the chin
replaced by a circle of skin from the arm,
replaced by a circle of skin from the thigh.
Scar upon scar multiply at twenty-four.
A monstrous white head sits on her shoulders
made of plaster with holes for eyes and nose,
equipped with a removable straw,
creating an alien being at thirty-one.
A growth in the womb has no life
yet develops, robbing her appetite,
filling each day with a horrible dread.
Cancer’s curse comes at forty-three.
On the third stair, she loses her breath.
Ten minutes later she reaches the top.
Slowly, so slowly the lungs are destroyed
and finish her life at fifty-seven.
A follow-up letter inquires of her health.
All patients involved in the bleaching experiment
have died of cancer. Are you doing well?
Raspberry, blueberry, brandy red wine.
My mother was my best friend with a nurturing personality. She sat while I drew her for the etching pictured above, she listened to my stories, laughed at my jokes. A wonderful woman and I miss her every day. I hope you were blessed with someone like her who encouraged you and helped you on your journey.