Those of you who have followed this blog for a while, have seen my mom’s beautiful artwork and, through me, shared in her whimsical but indomitable spirit.
She has been seriously ill with pneumonia over the last month and now is home with me, bedridden and under palliative care. She is eating better, seems stronger, and is in good spirits. Are there challenges? Yes, of course. But I only have to look over and see her there (have moved her hospital bed into the living room) and I know it is worth overcoming the difficulties the best I can to spend such valuable time with her.
Today, March 10, 2019, is her 90th birthday! All the more special because there were many moments over the last weeks that I questioned whether she would be with me and the kitties to celebrate this milestone.
In terms of this post, to mark her birthday, I’m sharing an excerpt from my work-in-progress novel portrait of the Victorian poetess, Christina Rossetti. Christina was extremely close to her mother, whom she lived with virtually all her life until her mother died at the age of 85.
This post is also the unveiling of the working title of my novel about Christina:
The Dove Upon Her Branch
(One of the first poems Christina wrote was at the age of eleven to mark her mother’s birthday)
“Today’s your natal day, sweet flowers I bring …”
Christina would never deny her mother’s opinion was the one that haunted and pleased her most. Even as a willful child, getting her way wasn’t as gratifying as hearing her mother say, “Good girl”, and, even better, seeing the light of approval in her eyes. They were glowing and moist as Christina held out a forget-me-not posy and began reciting her first poem—well, the first she admitted to.
“Mother accept I pray, my offering …”
“Of course, my darling.” The flowers were in her mother’s hands. “Go on. I know the best is yet to come.”
How did she? Christina wondered if Gabriel had given the surprise away as he had threatened, not only that there was a poem but, also, the very words that comprised it. She went on anyway. “And may you happy live, and long us to bless …”
The flowers were in her mother’s lap as she pulled a handkerchief out of her sleeve.
“Receiving as you give,” Christina’s own eyes teared up, as it happened and she remembered, “great happiness.”
Hopefully, her mother wiped hers for the best of reasons, Christina then as now needing her poetry to find its brightest point in Francis Polidori Rossetti’s appreciation of it.
“And the rhymes all your own. I heard you wouldn’t have any help with them.”
Christina turned her suspicion to William for spoiling the unexpectedness of her birthday gift to her mother. “Of course.”
“You don’t need to stamp your foot.”
“I’m sorry, Mama.”
“Instead, let poetry express your mood.”
Copyright © 2019 by DM Denton
To My Mother
by Christina Rossetti, 1830 – 1894
To-day’s your natal day;
Sweet flowers I bring:
Mother, accept, I pray
And may you happy live,
And long us bless;
Receiving as you give
The secrets of your heart
are stacked against the wall,
canvases for your art
of hiding what you missed.
No mistaking your style,
a freedom out of hand
that kept you all the while
believing as you wished.
A world that long was yours
before it was revealed—
with courage its master.
Flowers filling a place
left bereft of your own,
a portrait in a vase
found by me, your daughter.
Landscapes take you afar,
cats and soup bring you home
to settle for who you are:
the author of this poem.
~ DM Denton
Happy 90th Birthday, Mom!
Taking care of you doesn’t mean putting my life on hold,
but holding my life in your love.
©Artwork and writing, unless otherwise indicated, are the property of Diane M Denton. Please request permission to reproduce or post elsewhere with a link back to bardessdmdenton. Thank you.