A Practical Mom

can go to Bible study every Sunday

and swear she’s still not convinced,

but she likes to be around people who are.

We have the same conversation

every few years — I’ll ask her if she stops

to admire the perfect leaves

of the Japanese maple

she waters in her backyard,

or tell her how I can gaze for hours

at a desert sky and know this

as divine. Nature, she says,

doesn’t hold her interest. Not nearly

as much as the greens, pinks, and grays

of a Diebenkorn abstract, or the antique

Tiffany lamp she finds in San Francisco.

She spends hours with her vegetables,

tasting the tomatoes she’s picked that morning

or checking to see which radishes are big enough to pull.

Lately everything she touches bears fruit,

from new-green string beans to winning

golf strokes, glamorous hats she designs and sews,

soaring stocks with their multiplying shares.

These are the things she can count in her hands,

the tangibles to feed and pass on to daughters

and grandchildren who can’t keep up with all

the risky numbers she depends on, the blood-sugar counts

and daily insulin injections, the monthly tests

of precancerous cells in her liver and lungs.

She’s a mathematical wonder with so many calculations

kept alive in her head, adding and subtracting

when everyone else is asleep.

Bibliographical info

Amy Uyematsu's "A Practical Mom" from Stone Bow Prayer. Copyright © 2005 by Amy Uyematsu. Used with permission from Copper Canyon Press. www.coppercanyonpress.org.

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