Nicholas Smith 

You ready? 

(A poem for two voices on the occasion of my mother's 49th birthday)


The river of fatherhood flows only in one direction. 

The river of motherhood is not a river but a tidal estuary, 

deeper than the body of water it flows into.

Spring. Now there's a thing built for readiness. Whether we mean the flowing mouth 

of water, only occasionally dry, or the rounded tensile rings of steel.

     You ready? We have a lot to do today. What time did you go to bed?

     You laid out all night didn't you?

The spring of the eye is a tear duct. Like a mountain spring 

it will cast out water without caring 

for the source or reason. Even explanation will fail 

to recover the root of it. 

     I don't know what to tell you. I can't take care of everybody. 

     I've just about give up. 

A spring of metal can only relax when there is no tension. The bounds 

of which nobody can divine. The lack of tension taken too far 

might only be tension otherwise expressed.

     I'm wore out but we got a lot to do today. You ready? 

     I need your help or I'll never get this finished. 

A spring-fed river might make a pool by the sea. Close listening reveals 

that not all that washes in will wash back out. 

     Listen to me now. I'm just a dumb old woman but I know a few 

     things if you'll listen. You'll know when you know. You ready?

Spring brings blooms and garden holes. Rose buds red skin bug 

bites cool nights and candy. Rest. 

     If we don't get this done before the rain 

     gets here we'll be destroyed. Put that down and help me now. 

Spring lightly to my side, mother; rest your worried waves a while here 

by the shore. How could I have known what you have known before 

I'd seen the bottom for myself?

     Hush now don't handle that talk. Here help me stake 

     this up and then we'll get some supper ready. 


Nicholas Smith is an editor at Wind: A Journal of Writing & Community. He grew up in Knox County, Kentucky, and lives and works in Cincinnati, Ohio. He is a frequent contributor to Still: The Journal


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