Bay Area Taos Apricots 2Happy Mother’s Day to my incredible, artistic, courageous, wonderful mother, Kate Simonds!

Bouquets of Mother
by Rivera Sun

My mother,
a name standing
tall on two feet
strong like the black coffee
she drank.

My mother
drove tractors
and wrangled
five children
through chores
last minute homework
breakfast cereal
dish duty
and onto the school bus
before the sun split
a crack in the sky.

My mother
cut armloads of bouquets
from the immense
bursting forth of the yard
day lilies, bold orange
Queen Anne’s Lace, ocean spray white
irises, lavender
royal tongues of vetch
humble buttercups
primroses walloping the house
with perfume.

My mother
stretched into a tree
with her length of limbs, reaching
for the top shelf of vases,
lined up sensuous, round
glass women curved with grace.

My mother
must have heard
ghost voices of women
on strike from factories
and endless days of labor,
singing for bread
for their children
and roses
for their souls.

My mother
knew working
from dawn long into the dark,
moving from housework
to fieldwork to homework
to exhaustion
and on the table
like a promise
stood the armloads
of flowers
held in the curved arms
of a vase.

From Skylandia Farm Poetry by Rivera Sun

KateMy mother, Kate Simonds, is an incredible, creative human being. She raised five kids (two sets of twins and a sister in between), ran a farm, engaged with our education in a homeschooling, hands-on way, went with me to Europe in high school, arranged for my fifteen year old self to become a spinning and weaving apprentice, bailed me out of trouble once when I was stuck on an island with nothing but $50 bucks and a bunch of missed plane connections. She has nurtured my creativity, challenged by half-hearted efforts into full-blown inspiration, and supported me in countless ways. Here’s a poem a wrote about libraries, and my amazing mother. I wrote it in Chicago at a public library, remember all of our trips to the library when I was a child. It is featured in Skylandia: Farm Poetry:

Library Books
by Rivera Sun

At the Lincoln Street Library
in the city of Chicago
a last remaining outpost of public space
where citizens can rest
and children come with parents
where a man finishes
a course of study
on his lunch break
his orange tape measure
pulled from his belt
placed on the table
alongside stacks of papers
and an army fatigue backpack.

I, itinerate writer,
from the battering
cold Chicago concrete
and clattering L train thunder
remembering the days
when my four scrawny siblings
poor rural white children
growing up in a rundown mill town
were hauled by my six foot tall mother
once a week
down the steep
Court Street hill
and back up
as she lugged
two canvas tote bags
loaded with books
four per child
twenty volumes or more.

My mother was strong
with determination
even on the uphill climb
to putting food on the table
and shoes on our feet.

I remember, one night,
nine o’clock
watching public television
when she won forty bucks
in the Maine State Lottery
and cried . . .
because only that miracle
put gloves on our fingers
that frostbitten year.

In the lean times,
there were no pizza nights
only endless variations on spaghetti
and occasionally
the cupboards reached
the stage of empty
only miracles can solve.
There were no treats
that cost cash
but every week
new books
were hauled up the hill
from the Auburn Public Library
containing exotic places
other worlds
beyond the endless
aching stretch
of making ends meet.

I think on those times
sitting in the Lincoln Street Library
a thousand miles
and twenty years
past the days
of a six foot tall mother’s
struggle to get me
through a long string
of miracles
to today.

Find this poem and others from my days growing up on an organic farm in Northern Maine.

ARivera New Hatuthor/Activist Rivera Sun, syndicated by PeaceVoice, is the author of The Dandelion Insurrection, Billionaire Buddha and Steam Drills, Treadmills, and Shooting Stars, the cohost of Love (and Revolution) Radio, and the cofounder of the Love-In-Action Network. She is a trainer and social media coordinator for Campaign Nonviolence and Pace e Bene. Sun attended the James Lawson Institute on Strategic Nonviolent Resistance in 2014 and her essays on social justice movements appear in Truthout and Popular Resistance.