A Few Luminous Moments with Your Mother

Still decluttering.  I've found another poem I've written in Fall 1999:

And there we were in the kitchen,
eating again fragrant tangerines.
Finally your puppy stopped whimpering.
I was listening to your mother’s old voice
speaking in my language.
I haven't heard my language spoken so beautifully
since last year…
I don't think I'll ever go home again.

"And I was pregnant with Michael,
so I didn't want to work anymore
at the Contagious Diseases Hospital.
I went to work in the countryside, as a family doctor.
My assistant, Pisti Vakalics, had an askew shaped head.
He was pulled out from the womb with the forceps.
He looked like a Picasso painting.
One eye popped out in the middle of his forehead.
But otherwise he was a kind guy.
Though hot headed and helpless at times.

One night my other nurse came knocking,
rattling my door.
'Come quickly, Mississ the Doctor, come quickly.'
'What is it?!' I asked while putting my coat on.
She could barely breath, so alarmed she was.
I grabbed my shoes and ran after her
to the other end of the village.
There was Pisti Vackalics, helping a woman give birth.
The woman was crying, Vakalics was crying. Bedlam.
'What are you crying for Vakalics?
Help the woman get out the baby!'
'Oh! I wish I could,
but I am afraid her baby will eat me,
Mississ the Doctor. Look! I lost one arm!'
I looked at Vakalics closer and indeed
his right arm was swallowed into the woman.
He pulled, I pulled, the nurse pulled,
but the baby wouldn't get out of her womb.
Meanwhile the husband was agonizing,
because in Văscăuţi de Sus, our village,
the custom is to tie the husband's balls with a rope
and the woman in labors yanks its ends,
so that they can feel together
the pain and joy of life creation.
He doesn't want to miss that!

And the choir was singing incessantly the Infant's Soul Song."
"What is that?!" I asked softly.
"Oh, you don't know that?
They sing the Infant's Soul Song in that region…"
"I never heard of it…"
"You are too young…
In Văscăuţi de Sus when the woman decides
she is ready to conceive, she retreats
and stops speaking until
she doesn't come up with an original song for her infant.
And then she sings this song all along
her pregnancy. All along the birth giving.
All along his infancy.

The child learns the song
because it is there where his soul abides,
in the song.
They sing it at his death and throughout his funeral…"

Such country is my Transylvania, that I left behind…
"So it was bedlam. Like an Anthropology workshop…" I added.
"Yes, it was bedlam. But I put some order into it.
Vakalics didn't go to medical school, like me.
I gave the woman a papaverină injection, a muscle relaxant,
because she was in labor and as her vagina contracted
it captured his arm.
And here came out Vakalics' blue arm.
Such days we had back then, in Transylvania.
Should we go shopping? Buy you more lovely clothing?
Let's have another charming outing."
And we had another charming outing,
that is we got lost again because she has no clue
where she is while she drives around Philadelphia,
she just moved here in your house, pulling together resources.
We went in and out shopping malls,
with more and more fancy shopping paper bags
and then we finally got home
after getting lost for another hour.

I remembered her today in class,
as I was in front of my new students,
waiting for them to fill in the Student Data Sheet.
I was dressed in the soft gray dress
she bought me thinking I'd be her daughter-in-law.
I remembered her
as I was nervously patting my hair in place,
fearing that I didn't look authoritative enough,
I remembered how
she gently ruffled my hair
while buzzing the drier around my head...

Well, here you have it: If you’d like to throw a bit of money my way to keep my endeavors going, and also enable me to spread the money to my various causes, witnessing democracy, freedom of speech and faith, and engineering social change thru art being some of them, I’d be grateful.

New York
October 3rd, 2013

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