On Seeing My Mother Naked on Her 91st Birthday
You have fallen and broken your wrist.
Shyly, you ask me to help you into the shower.
I step into the bathroom where you stand
uncertainly, holding the cast
like a sword across your breasts.
You turn you back to me,
pull down your slacks, and with a laugh say,
You’ll have to see me in the all together!
I laugh too and protest, You saw us naked plenty of times,
wiping our bottoms even.
Now you are naked, and as you turn toward the shower
I steal a glance. I am stunned.
You are still the same beautiful slim mother
of my childhood. Memories surge of
your long, long legs in shorts,
as you scoop up a baby, sling him on your hip
and reach for a toddler’s hand.
I see your legs as you swim, powerful kicks,
even and slow, back and forth across the cool blue
of a pool on a a summer day.
Your shoulders slope now,
your breasts, flat and small,
hips generous enough to give birth seven times.
I was your first, a daughter.
Today in a flash I remember
how Dad loved your body,
the vessel of all our lives.
Marian O’Shea Wernicke is the author of the novel Toward That Which Is Beautiful, published by award winning Indie press She Writes Press. This novel was a finalist for Literary Fiction and Romance Fiction in the 2021 International Book Awards, and a finalist for Multicultural Fiction in the 2021 American Fiction Awards. Her second novel, Out Of Ireland, will be published in April 2023. It is inspired by the life of her great-grandmother who emigrated from Ireland in the 1860s. Born and raised in St. Louis, Missouri, and a long-time college professor in Pensacola, Florida, Marian and her husband now live in Austin, Texas.