My Mother, America

This poem is dedicated to the memory of Officer Craig Lehner, Sergeant La David Johnson and all service people and first–responders who place their lives in jeopardy for the rest of us.

My Mother, America
© 2017 by Dominic Spano

The day I first felt mama’s touch
I knew I’d owe her, oh so much!
Day after day, her love unfurled
And formed the canvas for my world.
She asked for nothing back from me,
‘Cept “Love me, son”, occasionally.

I got to know my mama well,
She’d grown up hard, she’d seen some hell;
Her faith was strong and paved the way,
It got her through each passing day.
With me in tow, she forged ahead,
“Just love me, son,” was all she said.

She wore her heart upon her sleeve
In order that I might believe
In whom she was and whence I came,
So I’d learn to respect her name,
Which carried hope and stood for pride
And things for which some good folks died.

As time marched on, she watched me grow,
And still her eyes retained the glow
Of one who toiled endlessy
To give me rights and liberty;
I don’t recall an angry word,
“Just love me, son,” is all I heard.

She learned, she said, through her mistakes,
Through tears and pain and some heartaches;
But mama took them all in stride,
Said no event should be denied,
That every single incident
Defined her life, without lament.

My mama sacrificed for me,
Devoting boundless energy,
To raise me good, to raise me right,
Not see the world as black or white,
To look for meaning deep within,
To persevere through thick and thin.

“When times get tough,” she said to me,
“Be careful, son, of what you see.
Don’t let life get the best of you;
Respect yourself and others too.
Be fair, be kind as you can be;
In loving them, you’re loving me.”

“In bleakest night, when the soul bleeds,
Is when Our Dear Lord interecedes,
So that you won’t go too far wrong,
So you’ll emerge both free and strong.”
With mama’s words as daily bread,
“Just love me, son,” rang through my head.

We woke to find, one fateful day,
That infamy had come our way,
Some of us were living well
While some of us were put through hell.
My mama, who had asked for naught,
Deserved much better than she got,

For many in our family
Were longing dearly to be free;
Blood–stained tears bred tear–stained strife
To give our brothers back their life.
We fought in love for liberty,
That you and I could become we.

My mama’s faith remained real strong
Because she’d taught us right from wrong.
“Do not let this be your demise,
Don’t let a stain metastasize.”
Those words from mama, right on cue,
She uttered in red, white and blue.

She told me not to yield to fate
And went on to re–iterate:
“Do not let anyone betray
The ideals in our DNA,
For in despair, dark and obscene,
The light of hope is clearest seen.”

And in due time, I came to know
Why mama rarely told us “no”.
The gifts she gave to us, you see,
Come from our birthright to be free.
Bestowed on us by Divine Deed
Regardless of our race or Creed.

And when, at times, we’ve gone astray,
And lost ourselves along the way,
When hope, it seemed, was all but gone,
The Lord sent us an Abe or John,
A Teddy, Ronald, George, or Franklin,
Andrew, Thomas, Ben or Martin.

These men were mama’s children too,
Their mark is seen on me and you;
Like me, they felt my mama’s touch,
Although she never asked for much.
From time to time, she’d merely say:
“Just love me, son, I’ll be okay.”

I promised never to betray
The gifts my mama sends my way,
Some of which are in disguise,
So that I might recognize
The blessings mama left for me
Are the most difficult to see.

For without sadness, what is joy?
Does turmoil not make strength deploy?
Could love appear, if not for hate?
Does fear bring courage to the gate?
Shame gives rise to introspection,
And sin to reconciliation.

So when my eyes grow tired and dim,
I hope to sing my mama’s hymn,
The one she sang from time to time,
Those lonely words, yet so sublime.
I hope she knows her little kid
Grew up to love her—always did.

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