Caveat Emptor

I remember the moment a package was brought
and the words the delivery man said.
Though he carried the treasure I’d eagerly sought,
his advice went way over my head.

“Sorry lady,” he said, “but I’m only consigned
to deliver it into your care.
Now it’s fit for the purpose for which it’s designed
and, with maintenance, won’t need repair.”

“But as for the way it will work, don’t ask me,
for that isn’t my job to explain.
You received what you ordered, but no guarantee
that it won’t give you cause to complain.”

So of course I accepted the package “as is”
for I wouldn’t have thought to do other,
not knowing that only experience gives
true claim to the title of Mother.

I would wager no woman who’s ever been blessed
with a heart full of love for a child
was completely prepared for the ultimate test
of going beyond the last mile.

But I also suspect almost anyone could
successfully hurdle obstructions
and rise to the challenge of good parenthood . . .
if children just came with instructions.



1996 Mary Boren
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When I Grow Up

When I was an embryo, wrinkled and wet,
God knew I would need all the help I could get.
In His infinite wisdom, He knew you would be
the world’s only mother who’d put up with me.

As you proudly bedecked me in ruffles and curls,
I took it for granted that all little girls
had a mother as tender and loving as you
and that someday I’d grow up to be like that too.

If I’d paid more attention when you spoke the truth
I might have been spared the mistakes of my youth,
but I lived through the foolish decisions I made
by having a mother who trusted and prayed.

There are many enigmas I’ve wondered about,
but one thing I’ve never had reason to doubt:
Whether I ever found fortune or fame,
I knew that my Mama would love me the same.

At times when my strength has been put to the test,
I’ve wished for your patience, so simply expressed
in my own little girl’s declaration of fact:
“When I smile at Grandma, she always smiles back!”

But now that I’m older, I’ve grown more reflective,
viewing the world through a softer perspective;
peaceful in having my heart reconciled
with the values you taught me when I was a child.

I know there are heights I can never attain,
but one aspiration will always remain:
As I seek to interpret my role in life’s drama,
I still want to grow up to be like my Mama.

Reminders of you give me cause to rejoice —
you’re my mother by birth and my best friend by choice.
If my heart’s deepest longing should ever come true,
my children will love me the way I love you.



1991 Mary Boren
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I’m saving treasures in a dresser drawer:
a diaper pin, the little shoes you wore
with jingles in the laces, a barrette
still clasping strands of wispy hair. They whet
my hankering for things I can’t forget.

Before our paths converged, I held a view
of easy, unobstructed passage through
the challenges of motherhood. I knew
exactly what to do at twenty-two.

But that was long before my stumbling feet
were pressed into the coals, the searing heat
of constant battle forcing my retreat.
And though you’ve plunged my heart into despair
a thousand nights, I can’t forget to care.



2013 Mary Boren
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