Poetry / Carol Moldaw
:: Eye to Eye ::
When I see my mom and H__ stare into each other’s eyes, inches away from each other, my mother on her saggy floral coach, H__ bending to her level, leaning in, with her obsidian eyes and limpid smile, the deepness and unbroken length of their gaze stuns me. Had my mother ever held her wildflower blue eyes that steady for anyone, for that long? In old photos, she looks straight into the camera, shining, intent—until the flash pops. With us, her regard was transitory, less than a gaze but more than a glance. H, one hand on the couch’s arm, close to my mother’s resting arm but not touching it, is firm and insistent as she cajoles and appeals to my mother’s better nature. And no matter how uninterested or stubbornly oppositional my mother is, H, in this way, manages to persuade her time after time to do what she wants her to. To rise from the lily-printed couch, to eat, go to the bathroom, change from one fleece or printed polyblend zip-up caftan to another, fresher one. I arrange not to be there to witness the getting out of bed, the teeth cleaning, the bathing, the transactions from one room, one chair, to another. For the moment, H__, the firm but loving mother my mother never had, has her entranced.
From the writer
:: Account ::
In describing aspects of the relationship between my mother and H__, her caregiver–H__’s patience and loving kindness, my mother’s uncharacteristically pliant response to it–I wanted to convey how deeply the relationship reaches into my mother’s psyche, how healing it appears to be for her. Of course, I can’t–and the poem doesn’t–presume to know what place, if any, in H__’s psyche the relationship has; the poem can only characterize the way she treats my mother. Prose, straightforward and observational, seemed to better convey the cadence of their interaction and my own role, as a bystander. Only in describing each set of eyes did I feel the necessity to use imagery.
Carol Moldaw is the author of Beauty Refracted (Four Way Books, 2018) as well as well as five other books of poetry, including The Lightning Field, which won the FIELD Poetry Prize (Oberlin College Press, 2002) and a novel, The Widening (Etruscan Press, 2008). Her work has been published widely in journals, including The New York Review of Books, Poem-A-Day, AGNI, Denver Quarterly, FIELD, Harvard Review, The New Yorker, The Yale Review, Plume and On the Seawall, which also published Tyler Mills’s interview with her in 2020. She lives in Santa Fe, NM.