Saturday, May 11, 2013

The Archetype of Mother

The Mother Archetype

 My mother (Julija) died when I was 19 so I’ve lived more years without her than with her.  This has elevated my mother to a figure of “Mother”, an archetype more than a real person and this is how I experienced her for many years.   It started with her long illness which gave a face to suffering and I can still see the grimace of pain on her face even at death.    

     Now I’m approaching the age she was when she was first diagnosed with cancer.  And I am rediscovering a person beyond the martyr or the “Mother.”  She was the one who was the center of attention, the one who organized all the festivities in our house.  She was the one who knew a thousand stories to tell of myths and animals, who kept me close to the earth with walks stopping to show a plant that tasted sour or a mushroom to eat.

     There was a time when Julija danced through the five day long weddings in Latvia and had a string of suitors.  She won the math prizes in her school and on the way home brought the cows in for milking. 

    All those years of life and pleasure are what’s returning to me.  I am her daughter after all and I sought happiness in different ways but have found her again in the curves of the hills of our farm and the gardens she so cared for. 


A poem for those days.  May they live on.




New York wrap around world,

thickets  engulf  the unsuspecting,

panic  pierces  the young.

To be an immigrant once again,

returning to childhood fears

in accented  tongues,

rhapsody  in decay.


It´s still there.

The river slows.

A cathedral stands  despite

endless shows of light and age.

I verify, in season,

my city is alive.


Perhaps the city is another,

one of ancient  folk tales,

of mother  and kin

traced to age and left behind.

What is place to exist

except  in  a dream?


Country cicadas  and  grasshopper  green

marked my youth. 

Snakes scared even mother

as staunch as the universe.

The country  is tractor  widths

and early morning eyes.

Say it is so, this life of shaping

rocks and dreams. 


The last visit

marred by dead,

once singing alive  in its core.

The body too long gone,

I wake to it dressed and plucked,

left in the snow.

Even Granny visits,

her cane  parting the clouds.

We smile and her massive  flesh

wrinkled and folded moves  on.


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