February 1, 2014

A Letter to My Mother, the Poet. ~ Lydia Nikolao Schmidt

photo: Carissa Rogers/Flickr

I found this poem as I search for inspiration…


Dear Mom,

I found this poem of yours, written in the Spring of your life, hidden amongst a myriad of poems about Summer and love. I sat at my messy dining room table, your infant grandson asleep on the living room floor, still in my pajamas at 2:30 p.m., searching for myself.

I found this poem as I searched for inspiration, at the exact moment I needed to be reassured that I wasn’t alone in my weirdness. You gave birth to me in the Summer of your life; a time of fertility and love, dreams and hopes, family and creation. You sacrificed your Maiden years to become a Mother, strong and struggling, challenged and ready. I played on your beach, and I danced in your sun. I marveled at your Summer storms and found comfort under your beautiful stars. All those years, I ate the fruit from your trees; I took all that I could until there was no more to take.

I weathered the rain and growing pains of my own Spring. I went out and danced to the beat of so many other’s songs in a fight to be unlike you; in a fit of fury, in a rage of rebelliousness. I set out to become myself, a separate entity, in a hurry and recklessly tripping over my own feet; a constant prisoner to my own thoughts. All the while, you were there, watching from afar.

When I cried uncontrollably in the dark, you held fast, gently caring for the late bloomer you knew I would become.

In the forest of life, one fateful eve of a star-filled moment, the branches of my womanhood emerged from the ground with a silent might. All at once I could see that the Spring of my life was almost over; the nights were growing ever more heated and heavy. I was alive within myself. I looked up and finally saw you as you truly are, the most beautiful creature to which all life has given birth. My mother, the most graceful and poignant tree of a woman, the stuff of which stars are made.

I saw that you stood alone, in your own pasture, under a blanket of your own light, absolutely magnificent.

Now the seeds of my Spring have begun to blossom, I enter into the Summer of my own cycle. I am learning from you how to stand strong within my own heart, how to hear the beat of my own drum and how  to follow the stars that only I can see. It is amazing to me, now a Maiden turned Mother, how much our young can take and how strong I must be; how I must bare fruit for them to eat and give of myself everything I am and have.

I marvel at you as you stand so gracefully in the Fall of your life, your leaves blazing magnificent reds and purples; you still have saved the best of yourself for me.

When the storms of my Summer become so heavy, you allow me to hide in your fallen leaves of wisdom, and in the darkest of nights, wrap your blanket of light lovingly around me.

My dear mother, as I read this poem of yours, I want to remind you that I am the future you lived in that no one could understand. That the best part of you, that weirdness, that strangeness, that eccentricity, is now the best part of me. As I try to navigate the stormy weather of  my own Summer—of marriage, of children, of strength and weakness—I am ever so grateful for the woman I was given to teach me the art of standing in the dark, reaching for the light; being comfortable in aloneness and oneness alike.

For all that it is worth, it is all I could ask the universe, if I could be just a little bit, quite like you.

With loving tenderness,

Your Daughter

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Assistant Editor: Alicia Wozniak/Editor: Bryonie Wise

Photo: elephant journal archives

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