Poet Laureate’s News

May 2022

Greetings, Sonomans! Happy May Day and Mother’s Day!

Phyllis MeshulamIn this month’s column, I’m going to share a poem I wrote a few years ago when my mother would have turned 100, if she had lived that long. I was studying Dylan Thomas with the wonderful Terry Ehret (at the wonderful Sitting Room) at the time and was influenced by his poem “When All My Five and Country Senses See.” As I tell my students, the best way to write a good poem is to read a good poem – so much inspiration and the influence of all the good things poems can provide. Like music, imagery, heart, clarity, the magic nation of imagination, storytelling.

And this poem, in its slant way, does kind of tell the story of my mom.

She Who Would Have Been One Hundred, Was My Mother
Phyllis Meshulam

Come, let me remake you,
beauty heralded again by
holly berry lips; wild maple heart
not yet pressed into waxed paper.
Grown in oceans of corn,
fields blood-red and legume-green,
that stretched your vegetable bones.
In the center of the country, branded by train tracks.
Travel became one theme.
To the country’s capital, then back to
the once-and-never capital of Illinois, where
you plucked chickens and wrote to your soldier.
From flower girl at the funeral home,
and lily of the Rockford Hiking Club,
to Cuba tourist, to a Woman’s Day
in an ivory tower making Brazil nut stuffing.

From farm to Paree to puppets and dolls and
Pepperidge Farm. To Women’s Auxiliary.
Wishbone wished on. But clavicle was still
scooped. Breast cancer would take its trophy.
Come, let me rewake you with Kiddleydivy songs.
Sprout your vestigial apron wings
into working ones of gingham, ikat,
terry cloth, brocade. Out of your tower then fly
over the pie dough continent – rolled, pressed,
crimped, buckled – beyond the inland sea,
to where all country senses cease but you
still see and see how the seaways widen.

This poem appears in my book, Land of My Father’s War, available at Copperfield’s Sebastopol and at Many Rivers, Books and Tea and elsewhere.


Phyllis Meshulem
Sonoma County Poet Laureate 2020-2022


Archives of previous Poet Laureate columns may be found here for 2012,  2013, 2014,  20152016-2017, 2018-2020 and 2020-2022.

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