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American Life in Poetry: ‘I Wore This Dress Today for You, Mom,’ by Kim Dower

Ted Kooser U.S. poet laureate, 2004-06

When I was a boy, because of the song, I thought there really was an Easter parade, but the Easters came and went without one. But here’s a glimpse of just a little piece of a parade by Kim Dower, who lives in Los Angeles. Her forthcoming book is “Last Train to the Missing Planet” (Red Hen Press, 2016).

I Wore This Dress Today for You, Mom,

breezy, floral, dancing with color

soft, silky, flows as I walk

Easter Sunday and you always liked

to get dressed, go for brunch, “maybe

there’s a good movie playing somewhere?”

Wrong religion, we were not church-goers,

but New Yorkers who understood the value

of a parade down 5th Avenue, bonnets

in lavender, powder blues, pinks, hues

of spring, the hope it would bring.

We had no religion but we did have

noodle kugel, grandparents, dads

who could fix fans, reach the china

on the top shelf, carve the turkey.

That time has passed. You were the last

to go, mom, and I still feel bad I never

got dressed up for you like you wanted me to.

I had things, things to do. But today in L.A. –

hot the way you liked it – those little birds

you loved to see flitting from tree to tree –

just saw one, a twig in its mouth, preparing

a bed for its baby—might still be an egg,

I wish you were here. I’ve got a closet filled

with dresses I need to show you.

Poem copyright 2015 by Kim Dower from Rattle, (No. 48, Summer 2015) and reprinted by permission of the author and publisher. American Life in Poetry is supported by the Poetry Foundation and the English department at the University of Nebraska-Lincoln. We do not accept unsolicited submissions.

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