Poetry by Donna Prinzmetal
—for my mother
You didn’t dance with Errol Flynn.
You never bought a sheep farm in Southern Oregon.
You never swallowed a whole bottle of aspirin
and said, “I’m sorry I’m sorry I’m sorry”
flat, from the hospital gurney.
You didn’t sit on the ledge of my bed, teary
to tell me Martin Luther King had died.
You never snuck cigarettes like a five-year-old;
we never had to search your purse
and tear apart the ones we found.
In a manic fire, you never went wild
with a charge card buying shoes and clothes
that never fit any of us.
You never had shock treatments.
I never had to remind you where you were
or who I was.
You never had lovers and
father never knew about them.
You never called me at school, on a Thursday in March
to say he had died.
You never lumbered out, on your bad legs, from your bed
in the dark, away from the nurse, to make it to a storage room
for a can of sardines.
It didn’t take three of us to pull you up.
You never read to me
Edna St. Vincent Millay’s “The Ballad of the Harp-Weaver.”
You didn’t know the name of every orchid,
even when people’s names began to elude you.
You didn’t love your roses, especially the double delights.
You didn’t love me.
We didn’t listen to Rachmaninoff’s Piano Concerto No. 3
or your labored breathing. I wasn’t holding your thick warm hand
while the new day gathered at the hospital window.
We didn’t scatter your ashes in that rose garden.
I never think about you.
I don’t think about you every day.
I didn’t know I was loved.
Donna Prinzmetal is a poet, psychotherapist, and teacher. She often uses writing to facilitate restoration and healing in her psychotherapy practice. She also tutors and coaches middle and high school students, and edited the Young Voices section of VoiceCatcher for three issues. Her poems have appeared in many magazines, including Prairie Schooner, The Comstock Review, The Cincinnati Review, and The Journal. Her first book, Snow White, When No One Was Looking, was published with CW Books in May of 2014.