Deep in its Grooves, This Table Does Not Forget and other Poems about Motherhood

Mahlia Amatina "It oscillates and moves, unpredicatable"
Mahlia Amatina "It oscillates and moves, unpredicatable"

Deep in its Grooves, This Table Does Not Forget

Red wax from our holiday candle
sticks like glue
to our kitchen table,
already scarred
from homework scratches,
art projects, poker nights.

I remember the way my son used to grind
the end of his fork into the soft wood
while his voice stumbled out stories
of the playground, his toddler backpack
splayed open in an empty chair.

This table held my head
on a long-ago morning
when autism sat with me, as I wept
into the silence of sunshine,
hearing comments from teachers, whispers
of parents in hallways from his elementary school.

Deep in its grooves, this table does not forget–
snacks of sliced fruit, nuts, and cheese
between therapy sessions,
the litany of hot meals–
the only nourishment I could control
in the maze of his development.

Three years now until college, he looks down
over my head at the counter,
nods at my instructions
as he grates cucumber into yogurt and salt,
learns the spin of a spoon,
an angle of a knife.

I chip away red wax
of another holiday,
wipe the table clean
with a quiet thank you
for holding us
as our boy becomes a man.

From Across the Room at High-School Orientation

My son’s blue Rams sweatshirt hangs over growing shoulders
as he tries on a strut, passing by me in untied shoes.

He catches my eye as I watch him shift from foot to foot
mixed amongst a group of girls.

Those same eyes looked for me when he was a toddler
gripping handlebars of his first bicycle,

after his first slide into shore on the beach,
with a first kick of a soccer ball.

A blonde girl at his right runs her hand through her hair,
leans forward to hear what he is saying.

This role of mother stretches long,
like a river passing through many towns.

I see you, I whisper.
I will always see you.

Outside Rushes in Like a Tunnel

The air changes
when a window is opened.
Outside rushes in
like a tunnel
pulled from the other side.

I was not ready
for the first window
blown open by cancer’s greedy hands–
its storm stripped my mother bare
in front of my twelve-year-old eyes.

The second window waited for me
on a pebbled rooftop
wrapped in a San Francisco fog.
He kissed me that night,
opened a view of my future
where lovers become partners
over decades of time.

The third window
was speckled with rain
on a cool November morning.
Our newborn son turned his eyes
towards my voice,
opening to an ancient song.

She Moves Through Me Like Sweet Honey

Sorry lives deep inside my belly.
She taps my shoulder at my desk
on days I haven’t done more,
couldn’t make that yoga class,
haven’t been in touch with that old friend.
Sorry spends a lot of time hovering
over moments with my son
when my voice gets too loud.
I haven’t given the time,
the love that I wanted.
She follows me down hallways
after a misunderstanding with my husband,
my head down, heavy sighs.
Finally, she moves through me
like sweet honey,
walks with me as she sings a bluesy tune,
pours out of me, soft like cashmere,
placed over a cold, hurt wound.

Jenny Linthorst

Jennie Linthorst’s poetry has appeared in Bluestem, Edison Literary Review, Foliate Oak, Forge, Kaleidoscope, Literary Mama, Mothers Always Write, Sanskrit Literary Arts Magazine, and Hopeful Parents. Jennie has published two books of poems, Silver Girl (2013) and Autism Disrupted: A Mother’s Journey of Hope (2011), with Cardinal House Publishing.

Jennie is the founder of LifeSPEAKS Poetry where she works with individuals exploring their personal histories through reading and writing poetry. She is on the faculty of UCLA Arts & Healing and has presented workshops at the Los Angeles Expressive Arts Summit, The California Center for Creative Renewal, the Manhattan Beach Unified School District, UC Irvine Extension, the University of Santa Monica, and the National Association for Poetry Therapy. Jennie has a master’s degree in Spiritual Psychology from the University of Santa Monica, certification in poetry therapy from the National Federation of Biblio/Poetry Therapy, and a BA from Skidmore College. More information can be found on her website at

Art in header by Mahlia Amatina “It Oscillates, It Moves, It’s Unpredictable”

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