Journal

Mother's Day

A Song for my Mother – Kevin Slick © 1999

 

My mother sang

My mother sang easy for herself

In the kitchen, in the car, in the garden

My mother sang.

Hymns, Blues, Jazz, Swing, Rock and Roll and Folk

All these my mother sang easy for herself.

“How Great Thou Art”

“Mrs. Robinson”

“Side by Side”

“Goodnight Irene”

this might be her idea of an afternoon concert

it didn’t matter if she knew all the words

one line was all she needed when my mother sang

easy for herself.

in the morning

mid-day

midnight hour my mother sang.

Words and the sounds of words

Rolling, tumbling, falling

Like a Pennsylvania mountain stream.

Words and the sounds of words

My mother sang.

Melodies like leaves on the wind

That whistled down our long valley.

Songs just came to her

When she wasn’t even thinking of singing

In the kitchen, in the car, in the garden

That how it was when My mother sang easy.

 

My mother sang serious in the church choir

Where she was the director

Who tried to direct me.

There is a proper way to sing she said

And she tried to teach me

The kind of singing

Where one note is right and another one is wrong.

This kind of singing where you are a tenor

And you sing with the tenors in the tenor section

And you not a baritone or bass

And don’t even think about soprano.

That’s what she said.

Songs that started and stopped on schedule.

That’s what she said

My mother when she sang serious.

 

When My mother sang serious

She laid those songs down end to end

On a narrow groove

A straight line highway to the horizon.

 

When My mother sang easy on her own

She wove a quilt full of songs

That spread out in all directions.

“What a Friend We Have In Jesus”

“I want to hold your Hand”

“Pennsylvania 6-5000”

and “Rock Island Line”

 

When My mother, the choir director

Tried to teach me proper singing

She tried to teach me with what she said

With clearly outlined parts

To be learned and reproduced.

 

When My mother sang easy on her own

She taught me with how she lived

And she covered me with a feeling of sound.

Sounds that covered me

The way the ocean wraps around you

When you dive into an oncoming wave.

 

When she tried to teach me with what she said

It was only words

And they blew away

Like seeds scattered on Chimney Rock

On the side of the Alleghenies.


 

 

I learned from how she lived

I learned from the sounds,

The songs that filled our house.

I absorbed those sounds into my skin

And they stayed.

When My mother sang easy on her own

That’s when I learned.

Not from what she said

But from how she lived.

And my life is filled with songs

That come to visit like old friends

Who drop by in the afternoon

And then decide to stay the night.

Songs and sounds and feelings

That return like waves on the ocean.

Waves that whisper

Waves that shout

Like My mother when she sang

When she taught me with her life

Singing easy

Like My mother singing easy

Like My mother singing

My mother singing

Only now

Her voice in mine

Endless like the ocean.

 

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