Welcome to Sunday Morning Lyricality, featuring a weekly song or poem by a Minnesota writer. Our current guest editor is Micki Blenkush.

Sunday Morning Lyricality, January 24, 2021 is generously sponsored by Danielle Dufy Literary and Stone Gathering: A Reader. Every issue of powerful, memorable poems, small fictions, and short essays, edited by Deborah Jacobs and published under the imprint French Press Editions, is a treasure trove of “portable, affordable, collectible literature.” 

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“Mother’s Day at the Nursing Home” by Laura Hansen is a poem featuring a scene of best intentions from the perspective of a daughter.  I admire how the imagery that poet uses to describe the simple action of struggling to move her mother in a wheelchair also effectively hints at larger narrative.  At the end of the poem, the mother’s words echo in my own ears, expanding their layered meaning.

Micki Blenkush

Mother’s Day at the Nursing Home
Laura Hansen

Mother yells
don’t push me in the pond, don’t. 
I only want her to see the duck,
the lone mallard that sways slowly
around the tiny man-made pond,
the teal of his blue-green head
bluer than the water
which is thick with soft green scum
the color of peeled avocados.

I tell her she needs fresh air,
real fresh air in her lungs.
She shivers, shakes her head.
The sky is piercing blue,
but it is still cool
and we came outside without a shawl
to protect her shoulders,
no blanket to cover her aching knees
or her slipper-clad feet.

So we rattle back inside,
the wheelchair jarring
kabump kabump kabump 
every three feet 
where the sidewalk has heaved
like the spring roads heave
in Minnesota after a long winter.
I try to smooth her way, 
to miss the biggest bumps.
Try not to look too far 
down that road I am going
when my own bumpy sidewalk
will become as impassable
as the winter-rutted road
she is traveling.

Don’t, she intones,
through clenched
and gritted teeth,
and again, softer,
don’t.

***

Laura Hansen writes primarily poetry though she has written articles for Lake Country Journal Magazine and Minnesota Moments as well. Laura’s most recent book, The Night Journey; Stories and Poems, was published by River Place Press in January 2020. This innovative multigenre work explores the intersection of art, landscape and story. Her book Midnight River won the 2015 Stevens Poetry Manuscript Competition and was a Finalist in the Midwest Book Awards. Laura has received several Individual Artist Initiative grants and a Community Arts Leadership Award from the Five Wings Arts Council.  Laura is a native of Little Falls, MN,  graduate of Concordia College in Moorhead, MN, a former bookstore owner and an avid reader. She currently works at the Little Falls Carnegie Library and is on the teaching roster of the Lifetime Arts Creative Aging Programs. More information at Www.riverpoethansen.com or www.laurahansenbooks.com

Laura Hansen’s poems have also appeared in Stone Gathering: A Reader.

“Mother’s Day at the Nursing Home” is from Laura Hansen’s book, Midnight River, published by the National Federation of State Poetry Societies Press.  It is reprinted here with permission of the author.