is smooth and pale as tea-rose leaves.
That ivory oval of aunt Gem
you sucked the miniature off
had black black hair like mama.
Mama walks so fast,
street lamps jig
without bending a leg…
lights in the windows
play twinkling tunes
on crimson and blue
bottles like bubbles
big as balloons…
Faster and faster…
and pink light spurts
over cakes doing polkas
in little white shirts,
in flounced white skirts.
mama walks slower…
slower and… slower…
Eyes… lamps… stars…
acres and acres of stars…
bells… and sleepily
You’re glad mama walks slow.
It’s nice to be carried along
up high near the stars
that look at you with a grave, great look.
mama sings you to sleep.
When she sings, O for the light of thine eyes Dolores,
there’s a castle on a cliff
and the sea roars like lions.
It leaps at the castle
and the cliff knocks it down
but always the sea
shakes its flattened head
and gets up again.
The castle has no roof
so the rain spins silvery webs in it,
and Dolores’ face
floats dim and beautiful
the way flowers do when they are drowned.
Step by white step
she goes up the castle stairs,
but the stair goes up into the sky
and the sky keeps going up too,
and none of them ever get there.
When mama sings Ba ba black sheep,
the stars seem to shine through her voice
so everything has to be still,
and when she has finished singing
her song goes up off the earth,
higher and higher…
till it is only as big as a tiny silver bird
with nothing but moonlight around it.
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Comments about this poem (Mama by Lola Ridge )
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