“I struggled to find the words to thank you”
is what the draft of my Instagram post said
and I was going to leave it to Billy Collins.
But as I scrolled through pictures I might
collage into some glimpse of who you are
for someone who doesn’t know you, I found
the real struggle. How do I show them
the teenage girl who left home
to chase dreams across the world
at nineteen, or the mother who carried
five boys through communes, camper vans,
inner city apartments, or the woman who swept
streets to feed her children, rubber bands holding
her hair up, overalls stained with sweat and
downtown dredge. Who could know the lady
who, after her babies left, after all that, after
her hair turned from chestnut to silver,
her cheeks etched with time
and tears, still lives so fully,
a swan who just landed, gliding
on a fresh pond, its surface scintillating
with twinkles she put in each of our eyes,
like the stars that are born and live and die
in her smile, her lips exhaling cigarettes burned
down to the filter, their embers bright enough for the
darkest confession, smoke curling like notes of a mandolin
playing soft nostalgia for places you’ve never been.
And I realized that Billy Collins –– and I ––
don’t know shit. Still, Dear Mother,
here is your Lanyard, and here is your Mother’s Day
dedication, in the pages of The Stanford Daily.
Contact Nestor Walters at waltersx ‘at’ stanford.edu.