Birthday Poem for My Mother

Birthday Poem for My Mother
by Mariela Griffor
Translated by Karla Cordero and Jesus Esparza

Birthday Poem for My Mother

I would like to settle
a friendship with you.
Open doors made of veils,
an age without weight and forget
the heavy absence of these years.

In my exile I’ve forgotten
my natural tongue,
I haven’t forgotten the sound
of your steps, even less
the sound of our ocean.

I learned at your school
everything has an order:
antibiotics for virus, alcohol for bacteria.
I am far away now
my reason for tears is the first and the last,
my disease, my diphtheria.

How do you erase the memory
from those who only remember?
What is it like to dive into
a troubled sea?
You silence me and I have to start over.

In proud and fury you say
I regret nothing
for appearance and duty
I look for you but find nothing
in this cellar of remoteness.

How can an empty body walk,
without choices, with Medusa’s pain
touching others with mischief?
Don’t judge me, He already has.
I begged, pleaded but he wanted nothing.

Could it be the other son that scraped at
the bowels, made your heart a frozen puddle
that coral smile and hummingbird body.
God took away his life and he took it away from you
Is this the reason why you’re frigid and cold within?

The beaten egg marks your injured door.
I listen to the wind sigh, whistle slowly.
It tells me the little bird is in peace
reclined on the sweet
skirt of your lap, asleep forever
in the maternal gentleness that coasts your arms.

Dust your sadness into the air.
Let the whole world cover itself in our misery.
I can see a humming bird jumping into your pupils.
Mother, mother, I call for you
and like always, you are never there.


Mariela Griffor is the author of two collections of poetry called Exiliana and House. Born in Chile and unwillingly exiled in 1985, Griffor now lives in Michigan with her husband. Griffor is the co-founder of The Institute for Creative Writers at Wayne State and Publisher of Marick Press.

Karla Cordero and Jesus Esparza are second year MFA students at San Diego State University. They have studied the art of translation under poet and translator Piotr Florczyk. Currently Cordero and Esparza are staff members for Poetry International.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s