Sunday, May 9, 2010

Andrea Bates - One Poem

My Mother's Imagined Hawaii

It was all lemon groves and luaus,
divers off the high cliffed waterfalls
in Waikiki and grass skirted ghosts
to brush the knees of those
swaying blissfully at Miss Wanna
Banana’s Hula Lessons for Tourists.
It was all hibiscus and hellos
they called aloha, a laughing
balm that spread its healing
glow through a smile as white
as the beach at Molokai,
mouth of a conch shell
pressed to the lips sounding
the call to the spit and roast
of suckling pig and pineapples,
macadamia nut casserole, pure
cane sugar in your coffee,
lazy evenings on a lanai
dressed as Dorothy Lamour
in that old Bob Hope movie,
sarong knotted at the hip
over a bright red bikini,
sipping tall drinks and spearing
Maraschino cherries
with fuschia-colored umbrellas,
stirring a song in your heart
afresh, green as a grass roof
of a love hut in Kealakekua.
Near the end, the island came
to her, dressed in a khaki suit
and carrying a vase of tulips.
His wife had a brain tumor
and I met him in the elevator
at Duke. In hospital cancer wards
strangers become fast friends.
Good luck, I said, I hope she makes
it. My mother lay in bed, caught
by catheters and drips that tied
her to a terrible circumstance.
Guess who I just met and where
he’s from? I said, entering her room,
as if one man’s presence from halfway
around the world could be that good
luck charm, the tears of Pele,
a peridot stone to rub between
thumb and forefinger
as I wished for a cure
for the cancer that would kill her,
as if the mention of the word Hawaii
was a ticket to keep her alive
until winter, when migration
to warmer climes seems more
natural to those left behind.

Andrea Bates’s poems have appeared in The Wanderlust Review, Borderlands (Texas Poetry Review); Bloodroot, Main Street Rag, Common Ground Review, and other journals. She was the 2010 winner of the North Carolina Poetry Society Thomas H. McDill award. Her chapbook Origami Heart is forthcoming autumn 2010 from Toadlily Press. She holds a BA from The University of Massachusetts-Amherst, and an M.A.W. from Manhattanville College. Originally from Connecticut, Bates has called Wilmington, NC, home since 2001. She teaches writing and literature at community college.

1 comment:

  1. a truly loving and descriptive message to her mother. A beautiful sentiment and a beautiful poem.