Friday, June 30, 2023

Poetry Sisters Write to a Quote

The challenge this month was to write a poem in response to a quote. Initially, I thought we would be writing to the same quote, but several examples were shared, so I decided to use one that spoke to me. Over the last few weeks, the calendar was looming large for me as the month of June and the second anniversary of my mother's death approached. That anniversary is today. Knowing that we would be sharing our poems at this time, and because she's been much on my mind, I decided I wanted to write a poem for or about her. 

The second challenge was to include the theme of transformation, which informs all of our writing this year. I couldn't figure out how to do that, though death is a form of transformation, and surely my life has been transformed by this loss. 

I decided I wanted to write to a form and chose the villanelle. I like the repeating lines and the need for only two rhymes. I wrote with this photo of my mother beside me. It was taken in May of 2021 when I visited with her for the last time.

A few weeks ago, I read On Earth We're Briefly Gorgeous by Ocean Vuong. It's an amazing novel with beautiful prose. I copied several quotes from it into my commonplace journal. One stuck with me and ultimately became the inspiration for my poem. It rings true because I am both missing and remembering my mother, today and every day.

“In Vietnamese, the word for missing someone and remembering them is the same: nhớ.”
-Ocean Vuong in On Earth We're Briefly Gorgeous

Villanelle for My Mother

Some days it’s hard to bear that you are dead
I talk to you each morning when I pray
And often hear your voice inside my head

“Put on something bright. Why not wear red?”
You were never at a loss for what to say
Some days it’s hard to bear that you are dead

I follow your advice and make my bed
“Straighten up your room before you play.”
I often hear your voice inside my head

Loose buttons? Reach for needle and some thread
Your smallest lessons stuck, won’t fade away
Some days it’s hard to bear that you are dead

On my last visit you forlornly said
“Our time has been so short, I wish you’d stay.”
I often hear your voice inside my head

It’s been two years since those first tears were shed
Yet still I carry grief each waking day
Most days it’s hard to bear that you are dead
Thank God I hear your voice inside my head

Poem ©Tricia Stohr-Hunt, 2023. All rights reserved.

You can read the pieces written by my Poetry Sisters at the links below. 

    Would you like to try the next challenge? Next month we are writing in the form of monotetra. You can learn more about it at Writer's Digest. We hope you'll join us. Are you in? Good! You’ve got a month to craft your creation(s), then share your offering with the rest of us on July 28th in a post and/or on social media with the tag #PoetryPals. We look forward to reading your poems!  

    I hope you'll take some time to check out all the wonderful poetic things being shared and collected today by Irene Latham at Live Your Poem. Happy poetry Friday, friends!  


    1. What a beautiful tribute! On her birthday a few weeks ago, I was visiting my hometown and Mom's friends (the ones still living). I could definitely still hear her voice inside my head.

    2. Yes, a beautiful tribute to your mother, Tricia, as Mary Lee is saying. My mom has been gone 7 years, and I think of her every day.

    3. Such a beautiful poem. All of the little details, like straightening your room, and sewing on buttons that really bring your mom to live. My mom has been gone a year and a half. Not sure why, but this summer, I have missed her so, so much. The world is so much emptier without her!

    4. I cannot believe how beautifully this all came together, and what a gorgeous quotation. Thanks for sharing your memories and your mother with us briefly, and may her voice continue to reverberate through you. ♥

    5. “Our time has been so short, I wish you’d stay.” This breaks my heart, Tricia. This is a great tribute to your mom, and I love the relief of that final line--the connection remains. Beautiful.

    6. Oh, time, our most valuable resource...sigh. I love how this welcomes a mother's voice in the head when so often the media would have us abandon our mother's voices. Thank you!

    7. Tricia, your villanelle flows with poetic ease while sharing your heartfelt feelings about missing and remembering your mother. I read this yesterday but fell asleep before finishing my comment. Their is an amazing phenomenon that brings me peace and comfort. Sometimes in my dreams my mother is there talking to me. Some of my friends have experienced this also.

    8. Such a beautiful poem of remembrance. Thank you for sharing with us!

    9. It's a special and loving poem, Tricia. The repetition of the voice inside seems to be one many of us understand. It's sad that our mothers are gone but so special that their voices live on with us. Thank you for sharing your personal thoughts about your mother.

    10. I have a lump in my throat. What a honor to your mother. I understand the absence and the time of year. June for me as well. Your last line says everything. Thank you.