my favorite poem ever: “Mom and Me”

Update: the author of this poem is unknown, and it’s definitely not my coworker’s five-year-old son. 

When I worked for a very large private company, I would sometimes use somebody else’s cubicle when she was out of town, and she had this poem pinned on the wall, written by her 5 year old son. And I’d read it, and reread it, I’ve read it a thousand times, probably. And I loved it so much that before leaving the company I sneaked in to copy it down. So…here it is…my favorite poem ever.

“Mom and Me”

Best friends forever
Mom and me.
Picking flowers and
climbing trees.
A shoulder to cry on
secrets to share.
Warm hearts and
Hands that really
care.

I mean, honestly, I can see why I loved it so much, and still do. It follows definite form until the end when everything breaks down in frightening exasperation, in which the poet displays stunning foresight, showing to his mother that yes, their relationship will fall apart as they now know it. Certainly, some things will never change, the flowers and trees, that is, their external environment, the things beyond our control, we will always have them, the poet tells his mother. By “a shoulder to cry on / secrets to share,” the poet explains that their past together can never be revoked, that indeed, he was once held by her as an infant and cried on her shoulder, and only they share the secrets involved between them during his gestation, birth, and breastfeeding. But it’s the final lines that break the pattern of two iambs (he isn’t strict with his syllables, but very confident with the rise and fall, the pulse of the meter) with a feminine ending that draws us to the following line–to be sure, imaginary lines of iambic tetrameter split mid-iamb to divide the imaginary lines in the creation of actual lines; the final lines:

Warm hearts and
Hands that really
care.

x / x
/ x / x
/

The breakdown serving a twofold purpose: not only does it portend the split that will pull them apart both emotionally (hearts) and physically (hands), it alerts us to the broken iambs that begin on line 1, and argues that to some degree this split in their relationship has existed since the very beginning.

So what exactly is this poem saying? I believe it illustrates the falseness in language of love, that the truth in a relationship hides under two layers, firstly, one of words, secondly, one of real actions, while the actuality is that all persons are ultimately alone in their experience of life, and that nothing, not even complete subsistence off another person, can bring us any closer to the ideals of love. Right, so…happy mother’s day.

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