Poetry Drawer: Mother Abandoned by Mitchell Krockmalnik Grabois

After my father abandoned her
Mother moved back to the country
to live with her sister
in the house in which they grew up

My aunt was feeble
as she’d been in childhood
but my mother was strong
from all the farm labour she’d done
and still resentful of her sister
whom she considered a malingerer

Mother did some work for local farmers
who felt sorry for her
She put on overalls and pulled on high boots
Behind her back they called her “Martha the Hired Man”
She worked harder than any of the men
though she could be mean to the animals
if they gave her trouble

The plaster in the farmhouse was cracked
and getting worse
as the house, after a century
continued to settle

Mother bought adjustable metal poles
from Ace Hardware
went into the leaky cellar
did some wrenching
propped up the first floor

All around her were cans
with dribs and drabs of paint
tools rusted on shelves
old, decayed baskets

Mother looked over the baskets
and remembered the
Indians who had lived in rough houses
at the border of the property
where the lumber train used to run

Spiders made homes in canning jars
The rusty cream separator looked arthritic and thirsty
like Old Man Creighton down the road

The cellar clutter depressed her
She carried the cream separator upstairs
and flung it into the yard
She put her arms around the gasoline-powered
washing machine
–it must have weighed two hundred pounds–
carried it up the rickety stairs

fired up her dad’s ’55 Chevy pickup
and backed it through the yard

She ran over some day lilies her mother had planted
to the consternation of her weak sister
who stood behind the screen door
a handkerchief held to her mouth

Mother hefted the metal
into the truck bed
threw in some pipe
and a well pump
and drove to Padnos’s recycling yard
where she sent it all crashing to the ground

Smoke drifted around her
and a front loader shoved around mountains of junk
Rain was starting to come down

She took the grubby bills the attendant gave her
and drove back to the farmhouse
the truck rattling over every rut

She went into her bedroom
where she had a laptop
hooked to a satellite

went back to what she’d been doing
for most of the day every day since she’d returned

staring at photos of international orphans
with cleft palates
and abused dogs and cats

You can find more work from Mitch here on Ink Pantry.

Leave a Reply