Literary Mama writing about the many faces of motherhood
Mama’s Orange Robe

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the 1970s wrapped my mother in a chic throbbing
neon-orange quilted robe with vertical magenta and
burgundy stripes
she may as well been encased by the word groovy
it was a padded mama pillow, a psychedelic road map to
my small world
I thought she was the lady on the Yuban Coffee can,
they sported the same dark bob
in my mind she was also Picasso's "Blue Lady" sad and
curled hanging in the neighbor's hallway
it didn't phase me to see my mother's image plastered
on public artifacts
of course she was everywhere
the universe spun out in ragged milky trails from her,
the center my hub
Dad meanwhile sat in Thailand clumsily clacking
chopsticks making the waitresses giggle sending sis
and I two life-size dolls, little diplomats of
Distance and Abandonment
"where's your T.V.?" kids would ask first thing when
they came over and then inevitably "where's your dad?"
little four-year-old red-faced shrugger, I had no
but I did have a life-sized stuffed alligator in the
garage that we could sit on and pretend to ride to new
having a split-in-half family in a world of neat
wholes baffled and embarrassed
but pride flooded my shy limbs if my mama ever graced
the red paved halls of my school
if her full-time job ever coughed her up long enough
to come visit, kids would eye her paisley mini
dresses, her black patent leather belts and matching
"she's pretty" "she's cool" whispers would ruffle the
still classroom air
once the neighborhood kids, sis, and I posed on our
new turquoise Volvo for a photo "say shit!" said mom
eyes wide, we burst into flames of laughter,
brighter even
than that neon robe

Cathleen Daly writes poetry and experimental theater. She has published poetry in Slow Trains Literary Journal, Poetry Super Highway, and Seeker Magazine. She has authored a chapbook titled Ode to the Unhinged and the last play she wrote, How to be a Secret Agent Girl, won Best of the San Francisco Fringe Festival.

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