My Mother’s Poems & My Father’s Poems

by Ann Fox Chandonnet

were cakes,
delicious tomato soup from scratch
and puffy souffles.
Occasionally she played the piano.
She sang over dish washing,
and taught us to leaven chores with song.
She has a deep laugh.
And she made beautiful things
from paper and cloth.
When she scratched your back,
you were required to scratch hers.
She also ran away, and ran
and ran,
until finally she was gone.

I make those cakes
and souffles.
I laugh that laugh.
And now and then I want to run.
But I also sing.

by Ann Fox Chandonnet

were calloused hands,
and sweat.
Hard work was his craft and art.
He never hugged or told us he loved us;
he was practically wordless.
I saw him communicate with my brothers
with chuckles, gestures and grunts.

But when he wed a second time,
to a second Barbara, no less,
he began to write her poems.
She kept them in a wooden box
atop her bureau.
They were just four lines.
But he was trying to speak.

I like to dig and delve and sweat–
but I also hug.

Comment: I have written poems about my parents before, but never as a pair. I wrote “My Father’s Poems” in a burst one morning. It came to me almost whole–a rare occurrence. Later in the day I realized my Mother had poems, too–but they had little to do with writing down words. I don’t want to go into the family history behind these except to say that my Mother divorced my Father shortly after I turned 14. She re-married soon after.

Bio: Ann Fox Chandonnet is a poet and non-fiction writer who lives in Vale, N.C. Her latest books are The Pioneer Village Cookbook and “Write Quick”: War and a Woman’s Life in Letters, 1835-1867. She also has a poem in the new Salmon Press Ltd. anthology, Dogs Singing.

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