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Poems | Poems | My Mother’s Hands

My Mother’s Hands

     "The anticipation of becoming our mother is a leitmotif that runs through women's lives. We watch our lives unfold, on guard for the heaviness above the eyelids, the swatch of gray at the temples, the big toe that crooks toward the others in a characteristic, familiar way."

                              Merilyn Mohr

My Mother's Hands
Click to enlarge.

In the mirror I see
a reflection of my right hand
and for a moment, this hand
does not belong to me
but to my mother, the same shape
baby finger, the same length of fingernails,
the same worried or worn look
to this reflected hand
seen for a split second.

Today is Mother's Day
and the quote I use
to open this poem (begun weeks ago)
was found in last night's Gazette:
now the reflected vision,
the newspaper quotation,
the breakfast tray brought up to me in bed
by my fourteen year old step-son
(promising several breakfasts in bed,
and "supreme politeness" for days to come)
coalesce into this awareness
of my mother's hands—not fair, really,
that I should inherit this facsimile
since hers so much more skilled
at all the labours of love:
her hands able to bake
any recipe, cook meals
for over a hundred guests,
grow vegetables, make flowers blossom
almost all year around,
keep a husband for sixty years and more,
sew and cook and serve
with few complaints:
hands that have rarely, if ever,
been idle. Whereas my hands
have always been subservient
to a less domestic life,
have not fully earned
the look they now expropriate.

This moment when we perceive
we are becoming our mothers
is a moment of blessing,
as in that instant yesterday
when we saw the old mother turtle
(two feet long, her moss-encrusted shell)
slide from the bank of the slough
into murky, brackish water,
then swim just under the surface.
Certainly my mother's hands
admonish me to sacrifice
more selfish notions
and to remember what
hands are capable of accomplishing:
the greatest good for others,
the true function of the word "nurture."


Copyright by Carolyn Zonailo:, 2004 | Poems | My Mother’s Hands
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Born in Vancouver, British Columbia, Zonailo attended ...
CZ is a visionary poet who writes with compassion and careful detail about the world she lives in.
GoddessThe Goddess in the Garden combines mystical insight and sensual language to evoke a timeless meadow where humans and deities play out eternal passions.
She draws on her study of mythology, astrology, and Jungian psychology, for a seemingly inexhaustible source of imagery.
There is a quality in her work which makes all her poems hers, but Zonailo’s style does differ. Compendium is a collection of short, lyrical poetry; Zone 5 of prose. Each book is an extension of her poetic exploration and a separate expression.
Over the years of sitting in Grant's Cafe or the Europa and talking poetry with Lewis Gretsinger, the questions have been asked: why write? what are you saying? what are your poetics?
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I give my soul to God.
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I give my poems to posterity.
I give my spirit to tolerance.
I give my mind to the future.
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The Land of Motionless ChildhoodThe Land of Motionless Childhood is a memoir of short stories by Carolyn Zonailo about growing up in Vancouver, and her Doukhobor heritage.
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Spanning the years 1955 to 2005, the Carolyn Zonailo Papers holds, as nearly as possible, a currently complete collection of Zonailo's extant literary papers.
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