Thursday, August 29, 2013

Today's poem by Victoria Redel

I've paid tribute to my mother a couple times in my letters - once with a birthday remembrance, and again with a poem by Philip Larkin. On what would have been her 100th birthday, I offer a wonderful poem by Victoria Redel.  

Getting Close

Because my mother loved pocketbooks
I come alive at the opening click or close of a metal clasp.

And sometimes, unexpectedly, a faux crocodile handle makes me weep.

Breathy clearing of throat, a smooth arm, heels on pavement, she lingers, sound tattoos.

I go to the thrift store to feel for bobby pins caught in the pocket seam
of a camel hair coat.

I hinge a satin handbag in the crease of my arm. I buy a little change purse with its
curled and fitted snap.

My mother bought this for me. This was my mother’s.

I buy and then I buy and then, another day, I buy something else.

In Paris she had a dog, Bijou, and when they fled Paris in 1942 they left the dog behind.

When my mother died on February 9, 1983, she left me.

Now, thirty years later and I am exactly her age.

I tell my husband I will probably die by the end of today and all day he says, Are you
getting close, Sweetheart? And late in the afternoon, he asks if he should buy enough filet
of sole for two.

From a blue velvet clutch I take out a mirror and behold my lips in the small rectangle.

Put on something nice. Let him splurge and take you out for dinner, my mother whispers
on the glass. 

About this poem:

"This was a poem written as I tried to write another poem. My mother often shows up this way, pushing up in the cracks and lapses of other poems. I am always surprised by the way my mother lives in me and how much—30 years after her death—I am still talking to her, inventing her, feeling her shape me."

Victoria Redel 


  1. Such a lovely poem. I'm off to google Victoria Redel.

    Love your new header, too. I'm not a fan of white flowers but these are gorgeous!

  2. Thanks for posting this lovely poem. The memories of my Mother are very real whenever I hear or see things that strike a certain note.

  3. A wonderful poem which I relate to so much......My mother would not have been 100 until 2015. She was 30 years older than me. My daughter Alice is 30 years younger than I am....These sorts of memories from childhood are so much a part of each of us, part of what Buddhists call our "suchness".

  4. What a beautiful poem. I lost my mother 4 years ago and still continue our daily conversations together but just in my head now. I think it will always be that way. Victoria Redel is a wonderful artist - thanks so much for sharing.

  5. That photo of your mother, wow, what a stunning beauty.

  6. Her words are so meaningful and poignant to those of us who have lost our mothers. I couldn't read it aloud without crying.

  7. What a beautiful poem. So true. Thank you. And such a lovely way to honor your Mother's birthday.

  8. I loved that. Thanks. Oh, those mid-century women. I have a fox stole, with head, that belonged to my grandmother in the top drawer of a dresser that my grandfather restored. From glamour to ewwww in two generations - but so evocative of a lost time.

  9. Right from the first lines this poem makes your throat tight.

  10. That is such a sweet poem, it brought tears to my eyes. I had a rather rocky relationship with my mother growing up and yet there are certain sounds, textures and smells that remind of an exact feeling or event - the good times - from so long ago.

  11. I love that photo of your mother. She was beautiful. The poem, too, was beautiful and poignant. I am so fortunate to still have my mother...and I am very aware that every moment and conversation is priceless. I'd like to find out more about Victoria Redel!

  12. Sad, but lovely. I saw my mother as I read it, not the mother who lives in a nursing home now, but the young mother with the lustrous black hair who stayed up late sewing matching sister dresses.

  13. So wonderful, Nan. Thanks for posting this poem. My mom died a few years ago at the age of 89. I miss her every single day. I kept a few reminders but mostly she still lives in memory. I still talk about her. I still wish I could call and unburden myself when I'm feeling down. Sometimes for a moment or two I manage to forget that she's no longer in this world. I seem to be the only one in my small family who remembers her birthday on June 1st every year.

  14. My thanks to each of you for both reading the poem, and taking the time to leave me your thoughts.


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