With My Mother at 87 [poem] by Sheila Bender

When we walk through the grocery’s
automatic sliding doors, my mother
invariably stops just inside, plunking
down the end of her cane exactly where
the rubber entrance mat ends.

People continue around us as if we
are rocks in a streambed while she
wobbles and checks her purse for items
we already made sure she has brought,
money, a credit card, reading glasses,
even the vehicle handicap display we
hadn’t had to use in the parking lot.

Unable to stop her from combing
her fingers through her purse, I leave
to grab a cart for her to hold onto and keep
steady. I remember the diving board
edges of my childhood, my hesitation
before bouncing up to go down
and meet the fearsome waters.


Image of 1930s Switchboard Operator

[Refer: This story refers to the essay “The River of Ghosts” by Curtis Smith.]

Image by Claire Gillman

Sheila Bender, founder of Writing It Real, an online resource community for people who write from personal experience, teaches at writers’ conferences around the country and in her hometown of Port Townsend, WA. Her books include Behind Us the Way Grows Wider, a collection of poetry; A New Theology Turning to Poetry in a Time of Grief, a memoir; and Writing in a Convertible with the Top Down, a recently re-issued book on creative writing co-authored with Christi Killien Glover. Other titles are from McGraw-Hill and her own imprint, Writing It Real. She has served as a Distinguished Guest Lecturer at Seattle University and is learning the art of gardening.