Melissa Balmain: Memo From Mom

"To my friends: my work is done. Why wait?"
— the suicide note of George Eastman,
Eastman Kodak founder, 1854-1932


Dear kids: my work's not done—it had to wait
while I made sure the sandwich on your plate
was crustless, mayo-free, and safe for braces,
and all its wholesome vegetative traces
escaped the naked eye.

It had to wait while I searched sofa cracks
for Legos, lip balms, socks, and earring backs,
and scavenged sales racks for a white bikini
less flimsy than a strand of cappellini
so pervs would pass you by.

It waited while I drove you to and from
the classes where you learned to bow and strum,
play royalty or pirates on a galleon,
belt songs in German, Hebrew, and Italian,
or undercook a pie.

Beginning soon, my work will wait some more—
as I schlep boxes through a college door,
then back again for summertime vacations;
consult on grad schools, gigs in other nations,
and budgets (drive or fly?);

then help you with your starter cities, jobs,
friends, colleagues, neighbors, roommates—neatniks, slobs—
first houses with their shrubbery and bedding,
and, let us hope, for each of you, a wedding,
plus newborn reasons why

your own work never will be fully done
because you'll keep on juggling, Mon. to Sun.,
your calendar and theirs, life over-filling
so that, just like your mother, heaven willing,
you won't have time to die.