On Mother’s Day

On Mother’s Day
By Grace Paley

I went out walking
in the old neighborhood

Look! more trees on the block
forget-me-nots all around them
ivy lantana shining
and geraniums in the window

Twenty years ago
it was believed that the roots of trees
would insert themselves into gas lines
then fall poisoned on houses and children

or tap the city’s water pipes starved
for nitrogen obstruct the sewers

In those days in the afternoon I floated
by ferry to Hoboken or Staten Island
then pushed the babies in their carriages
along the river wall observing Manhattan
See Manhattan I cried New York!
even at sunset it doesn’t shine
but stands in fire charcoal to the waist

But this Sunday afternoon on Mother’s Day
I walked west and came to Hudson Street tricolored flags
were flying over old oak furniture for sale
brass bedsteads copper pots and vases
by the pound from India

Suddenly before my eyes twenty-two transvestites
in joyous parade stuffed pillows under
their lovely gowns
and entered a restaurant
under a sign which said All Pregnant Mothers Free

I watched them place napkins over their bellies
and accept coffee and zabaglione

I am especially open to sadness and hilarity
since my father died as a child
one week ago in this his ninetieth year

1 thought on “On Mother’s Day

  1. Grace PALEY’S MOTHER’S DAY gives us an expectant rush of
    familiarity and the unusual in her history of privacy of her
    fine self hood.

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