Podcast: A Rose for My Mother
Hi, welcome back to the weekly Radio of Resistance. I am your host, Thanh Dinh. An unreliable host at times and someone who, for better and for worse, you should never trust when she speaks of future podcast episode topics in her excitement and delirium.
Yes, I had planned to talk about Arthur Rimbaud. I indeed had planned to talk for hours about his poem and his view on Ophelia. About despite the differences in their elegance and their turn of phrase, Arthur Rimbaud and Charles Burkowski seem to share the same point of view on people and life’s suffering.
And yet here I am, with nothing to say, and nothing to read. I had made it through half of Rimbaud’s poetry collection and if my Kindle is right, I am 20% through Charles Bukowski’s poetry collection. I have to mention Bukowski’ poetry collection’s name here because it’s the sole reason I chose the book: “You get so alone at times it just makes sense.”
Indeed it is right. I am so alone, sickly, ridden with nothing but anger and tiredness on my solemn bed that it just makes sense, although I don’t know yet what kind of sense it is, and how that kind of sense will make me, or whoever that is ever important to me, feels better.
So here I am, reading to you 4 parts from my poetry series, A Rose for My Mother, as a way of buying more time to prepare a stranger path to connect Arthur Rimbaud and Charles Bukowski. I do hope you like it much more than I do. And before you mention it, yes, I do know that Mother’s Day had long passed me by.
But my dearest audience, I never celebrate Mother’s Day.
The reason might come as a cliché to some of you, or all of you. But to me, every day is Mother’s Day. I just love my mother too much, and owe my mother too much, to show it to her only on one day.
And thus, I put off the tradition. Instead, I do something for her in a more roundabout way. Like writing poems she will never read. Putting notes where she couldn’t see. Buying new clothes and bags she never touches.
Or just simply being healthy.
So here I am, reading to you the poems I write for her. It has come to 4 parts now and counting. Who knows until when it will stop. I have a strong bet that it will never come to an end because I made a promise to her that in the next life, and even many, many next lives after that, I will still choose to be her daughter.
A Rose for My Mother, Part I
I walk through a garden full of thorn and
trying to find a rose for my mother.
I sometimes wonder
how can life offers so little and yet,
my mother can offer so much.
They should have given out medals for all mothers:
There’s no argument against that, although I don’t know who they are.
Perhaps they are the Gods and Goddesses that I seldom see;
or perhaps they are someone – anyone, really – who
has the power to stop the suffering of this world.
I walked through a garden full of thorn and
yet there were no roses beautiful enough
to offer my mother as a present.
A present that not so much a thank you, but more of an apology.
Mother, I didn’t mean to be born with mental illness, really –
and in the darkest of times, I wished I hadn’t been born at all.
Yet the love in your eyes and the tears shine from your broken heart
pick me up and pull me through.
And father is as old
and broken as we all are.
Mother, I see you there,
your back to my face as you race through the sweltering street
just because you don’t want to see me “sad” or
whatever fancy terms people used to describe
this unfathomable melancholy.
I see you there as I walk through a garden full of thorn,
and mother, though there are no roses grown in these gardens,
I will build you a kingdom full of your favorite roses.
With these bare hands, I will use the rest of my life
and the next
and the next
and the next
forever on and on
to build you a garden full of roses
where the flowers bloom all seasons and the thorn –
yes, the thorns will always be there –
but they will cut me instead of you.
A Rose for My Mother, Part II
I collapse on the floor, with Leonard Cohen on my ears.
I know that some days, I will pay you back
somehow, some ways.
You never ask for a child like me,
and even if you do, I suppose you never ask for someone
ridden with laughters and sadness mingled together
in a basket made of unstable mental state
and self-inflicted wounds.
I saw you ran towards me, your knees weaken with old age and
your left arm without strength and
your white hair falling everywhere and
I can’t help but thinking to myself, Why you?
Why must Heaven, if there is one, be so cruel to you?
Why must I be so cruel to you?
I collapse on the floor, half sane, half insane,
Eminem blasting on my brain,
and I know that I will pay you back,
somehow, some days.
But your knees keep growing weaker and
your arms keep growing thinner and
your hair keeps growing whiter and Mother,
I can’t win against time.
Despite my fervent wishing,
my ardent praying,
and anything that anyone else would do
just for God to listen,
I can never be who you want me to be.
I collapse on the floor, tears streaming down my face,
and The National is still on.
I guess all this time I never know
that whenever I turn around,
you will always be there.
Sad and broken and weaken by the cruel passage of time,
but you will always be there.
And you know what I fear most, Mother?
That one of these days, when I finally can pay you back,
somehow, some ways,
when I can finally proudly turn around:
and you are no longer there.
A Rose for My Mother, Part III
I don’t know what to say to you, Mother,
to amend your sadness and sorrow.
Apologies and gratitude, Mother,
seems so useless and meaningless now.
The other day you told me the story about my sister –
who had struggled to survive Autism on her own and
failing at that, is now just passing through her life in a breeze
of nothingness and shallow graves.
You said when she was still a young infant child,
she never slept; so you had to hold her up in your arm and
sitting up all night, worrying that
maybe the ghost of the war will take your child away,
or the ghost of the dawn will take you away.
You said it was a miracle that you hadn’t gone insane then and I thought to myself,
Mother, after all these years, it is a miracle
that you hadn’t, even once, fallen down the spiral of depression and
the curse of mental illness.
I collapse on the floor, tears falling down one side of my face,
and the first thing I see
is always you, there with me.
Wake up, honey, wake up, honey.
I muster the strength.
I gather the courage.
I unbutton the bravery and
I bring down the savage.
But Mother, dearest Mother,
the apologies are getting boring and
the gratitude can’t even get nearer to what you had done –
what you had sacrifice to keep your two children alive – and now
at the age of forty-five,
you don’t need no apologies nor gratitude.
You only need to be free.
And Mother, you don’t know how much I yearn to have the power to grant you that wish.
A Rose for My Mother, Part IV
I wonder if you cry in the shower,
when you are left alone with your thought and
there was no one around you to put on a show for:
A show of strength,
of someone who is fearless of death
and fearless of victory.
I wonder if you cry in the kitchen,
when you are alone, preparing meals,
making thankless breakfasts, lunches, dinners,
and countless other thankless meals
that everyone around you takes for granted.
You put in the seasonings as you put out
the candles of your happiness.
You often talk about your dreams of being
a cai luong actress,
and any other roles in life other than
a mother of two sickly children,
a wife of an abusive and lazy husband,
a sister-in-law of an in-law family that consist of nothing but
gamblers and addicts.
I wonder if you cry in your sleep,
when your dreams take over and you see yourself standing on the stage,
finally being the actress that you are so dearly crave for,
and again, there will be no one around
to break the wall of the fragility of dream
But the morning always come,
and Mother, you will always be burden with me.
I wake up from my seizure fit and see,
Indeed, it’s true,
you have always been crying this whole time and
I have never been awaken enough to see your tears
burning down time,
crashing through dreams,
tearing down walls of strength and the fragility of being human,
to save me from being me.
Indeed, there is no one here and you don’t have to put on a show.
And even if there is a crowd here, why do you even need to put on a show?
Who will see it? And what will they do?
But as I lay there in the madding crowd, Mother, there is one thing I believe,
If there is only one true God in this World,
My one true God is You.
So that will be the end of the poetry series, A Rose for My Mother. As you will soon find out, the first two parts has been included in my first poetry collection, A Rose for My Mother: Poetry for the Wounded Heart, which has now been available on Amazon under the Newest Release when you search for the title.
If you are intrigued by the first poem and has grown to be highly interested by the end of the forth poem, you can check out the title on Amazon using the filter Newest Release.
However, I do have a little warning. Despite there is a Kindle version of the book, I highly recommend purchasing the paperback version. As for the reason why, you will understand once you check the inside of the Kindle version and the paperback version.
As for my readers living in Canada, to offer my sincerest appreciation, I am giving out 50 signed copies. You only need to send your paperback copies to my address at 64 – 400 Bloor St, Mississauga ON L5A 3M8. Please be assure: I am willing to pay for the postage.
In regards to the update of the podcast, I do have some bad news in store. And thus, I had to wait until the very last moment to tallk about it.
My health state has been quite poor for quite sometimes now, and thus, though I will try my best, there might be no update for Radio of Resistance next week.
But don’t you worry. The resistance is still on and the resistance is still strong. And once I come back from fighting these monster, the resistance will be better than ever. A fighting force that won’t back down, no matter what. An assemble of heroes and heroines who live not because of they need to, but because they want to. A resistance not to win something, not to achieve something, not to take something – no – but just to let us, and everyone, off the hook.
And with that, peace out.
I am Thanh Dinh, and you are listening to the Radio of Resistance