Poetry Speaks to the Heart

When flowers bloom, pay attention. No one is promised tomorrow. Martha Bordwell, author 

My friend and fellow writer, Martha Bordwell, gave me permission to share her beautiful and meaningful poem with you. Martha’s essays and poems have been published in local and national journals. She’s also the author of a memoir entitled, Missing Mothers, which interweaves her experience of losing her mother who died when she was a child with her experience of raising adopted children.


Memorial Day by Martha Bordwell – originally published in Amsterdam Quarterly

Today I found a photo
taken when I was five years old.
I stand alone, in front of a blooming bush,
spears of pink shooting skyward behind me.
I clasp a sprig with both hands
and wear a yellow dress
with a matching bow in my red hair.
The dress is too short;
knobby knees stick out.
I am missing a tooth.
On the back of the photo
my mother wrote, Martha, May, 1954.

Mother must have loved spring
with its abundance of blooms.
Did she welcome each entry in its parade:
first daffodils, then tulips, trillium, bleeding hearts?
Apple blossoms, flowering plums, lilacs?
Did she peer impatiently at the peony buds,
watching the ants scurry up and around
like stagehands getting ready for opening night?
And glow when they opened their annual show,
petals spreading atop slender stems,
a chorus line of gossamer gowns.
Did she wish, like I do, that the show would last
a little longer?

Mother didn’t live to see another spring,
gone more quickly than a blooming bush.
I have no memories of our time together.
Only photos which whisper,
When flowers bloom, pay attention.
No one is promised tomorrow.

Affirmation: I will hold tight to those who have loved me.

Coaching questions: How might you write about your mother loss experience or mother memories? 

Photo by Anna Niezabitowska on Unsplash