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View from a Mother's Heart - for the Hokies

They drew back the drapes, let us see his face.
It looked as if he were sleeping, except for the stains
that covered his shirt; my first impulse
was to tell him to take it off, promise I’d
wash it and bleach it next time
he brought his laundry home.
The woman at the next window put her cheek
against the cold glass, as if it were a nursery
and she was seeing her newborn for the first time.
I caught her eye and we both took a breath,
caught in the veil between life and death,
understanding the need to be numb
but wanting to be alive with anger and grief.
The counselor said that would all come later,
after the reality sank in that our children
were never coming home for Summer vacation,
they were not going to call, asking for money
or advice for the love-sick or anything at all.
We chose clothing for the viewing;
it was hard to know if he’d wanted to be
buried in suit and tie or in his blue jeans.
It had never seemed necessary to ask him.
We settled for one of his Hokie sweatshirts,
the one with his name engraved
across the pocket -
the pocket that lies right over his still heart
(and why can't I breathe when I think of that?)
I sleep with his baby picture under my pillow
and though I think my husband knows,
he says nothing, just moves to touch me
all night long, as if some madness will
overtake us in the dark.
I am not afraid of anything anymore,
not since madness overtook us
in the bright white light of day.
It didn’t even try to hide.

24 Apr 07

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This is very good. I love the mourning mother distracting her mind with promises of clean laundry, as if she is still trying to do something for her child even when he is dead.
I am confused by the final line, however. The madness didn't even try to hide? Could you explain this to me? Also, I think the shift to present tense in the fifth stanza and then back again to past tense in the final one is too sudden. It interupts the flow of the poem for me. Maybe you have a certain reason for the change, but looking back over the poem, I cannot see why.
One more suggestion, when you say "as if madness..." in lines 28 and 29, it seems as if the madness isn't going to take you over, but then in line 31, it simply does anyway. Maybe it's just the repetition or something, but those lines stand out as not being quite right to me. The flow of the poem seems to rip there, like it's a little too quick of a change. It's kind of like you were changing your mind while you were writing the poem itself. Maybe going more into depth about the reason the madness took over anyway would help to smoothen the transition between those contradicting lines. On the other hand, I do like the contrast between "overtake us in the dark" and "bright white light of day." Although I think it should be "bright white light of THE day"
Lines 10 and 11 are amazing. This is a very good, emotional poem. Great work! I look forward to reading more of your stuff!
 — Burrito

Oh, and I love the title. It is perfect.
 — Burrito

The change in tense is from what has happened to what is happening, the progression of life going forward.  As for madness not even trying to hide, we usually grow up afraid the 'boogeyman' will come in the darkness, we tend to be brave in full light.

This woman has had the heart ripped from her and it was in daylight, evil stood proud and bright, didn't even feel any shame or guilt.  

I hope that helps.  I'm pleased that you understand and appreciate another view.
 — unknown

Chilling and real.  My heart goes out to ANY mother who has a view like this one.  
 — unknown

Every mother would understand.  Then she would hold her children closer.
 — unknown

sounds like an opal isabelle combination
 — unknown

Which would not be a bad thing!
 — unknown

literally no - physically yes

view from a man's heart
 — unknown

Don't ruin this for everyone else with comments unrelated to the poem.
 — unknown