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Mother Knows Best: "Christmas Eve: My Mother Dressing"

Written by

Toi Derricotte


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Posted

May 10, 2012

Type

Essays
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This is one of the few poems that I showed my mother during her life, and she loved it. It let her know how much I appreciated and remembered her beauty and, also, how much I appreciated how hard she worked. When my mother was in her forties, she divorced my father and, for some reason, perhaps because of the stress, developed a skin disease that affected her face. She was so beautiful that this must have been devastating. My mother wanted me to write about the "good" things, as she said. Once I realized that it must be a terrible thing to know (even if unconsciously) that your child is going to be a poet and use your life for material, I developed some sympathy for my mother's point of view. But this poem, from my point of view, is about my loneliness and longing to touch my mother. I look at her in the mirror. I look at her in memory.

But, in the end, I never do touch her. The closest I get is when she lets me help her put her dress on. Then I get to look directly at her face.

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