poem: I Will Be My Mother's Apprentice

poem: I Will Be My Mother's Apprentice

from our poet of the month: Carmen Giménez Smith

Getty/Nito 100

“That you didn’t know her is your / misfortune: a hot planet’s core, / late summer’s best light.”


as if I were a hunger because
it is our bleak and common future
to reverse the sphinx. I study the meander
of her logic for context. Sometimes it is
like a poem that is not quite realized
filled with hollows and bursts,
a stranger’s grief and rage. She asks
for home when she’s home. She screams
for the purse we haven’t hidden from her.
Sometimes we circle the same spots,
and I try to be as I know she was with me
once: remedy and anchor. I’m a fair
to poor replica, yet still her proxy.

That you didn’t know her is your
misfortune: a hot planet’s core,
late summer’s best light. As metaphor
I evoke a pink, vulnerable jelly,
translucent and containing the past.
I hold it in my hand and against a lamp.
This is our intimacy now. My nails trace
the brown spots that mark her losses.
Beautiful and sad and strange, I say,
because I’ve made her into something else.

Listen to Carmen Giménez Smith read “I Will Be My Mother's Apprentice”:

Giménez Smith shared her inspiration for this poem with S&H:
“A part of growing older is realizing how I'm more and more like my mother, but I also lost time with her when she developed Alzheimer's so this poem laments the ways in which I still had stuff to learn but also that one thing I can do as an artist is turn her into a subject for meditative inquiry in a poem.”

More Poetry:

Deborah Anne Quibell's A Thousand Ways

Wilder's no. 112

Tyler Knott Gregson's take an ache, make it sing

“I Will Be My Mother’s Apprentice,” from Be Recorder. Copyright © 2019 by Carmen Giménez Smith. Reproduced with the permission of Graywolf Press, Minneapolis, Minnesota,

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