Literary Mama writing about the many faces of motherhood
Simple Gifts


The King and I, 1961
At Christmas, we caroled with
neighbors, assorted instruments
and all ages welcome. Each year

two were chosen to sing the parts
King Wenceslas and his page.
One year my Dad and I sang;

how I still hear his bass voice booming
the words: Mark my footsteps,
my good page: tread thou in them boldly.

Lunch Time, 1963
Dad could look sad
as a basset hound pup
wandering the kitchen

at noon, seeking
what food there might be
on a plate, for him, at table;

I don’t suppose there’s anything for me?
his way of soliciting

High School
Homework, 1965
I recall angry evenings
despairing at homework
that made no sense to me;

'til Dad's reasoned,
Tell me what you don’t

clarified the problem
in my reframed question.

Dinner at the Chem Lab, 12 Oxford Street, Cambridge
Dark winter evenings at Dad’s office/lab--
with its small bathroom-cum-pantry,
the old green sofa and blanket thick

with smells from the adjoining lab--
I would curl up, read, or do homework
until we dined on Dinty Moore beef stew

in the can over a Bunsen burner; then
ice cream sandwiches from basement machines,
a long walk through dark winding halls.

Slow Waltz at the Boston Skating Club
Dad was creative in all the ways
he combined one thing with another;
like deciding in his 60s he wanted

to skate, a break in the day and a chance
for some fun; he asked me to
be his partner. Lunchtimes we met,

laced up for lessons, then practiced our steps,
swooping around the ice like the pair
we were, feeling like Ginger and Fred.

Crisis Moment, 1968
I called Dad during the day
from Cornell--what crisis?--

though meeting with colleagues,
he quietly asked them to excuse
him a moment, never

considered putting me
on hold.

Twenty-First Birthday, 1969
Junior year, my dad appeared
in a snowstorm one day,
Cornell en route to nowhere else;

yet there he was, driving up
as if coming home, taking me to dinner,
and saying goodnight.

Waving goodbye, I understood
he had opened more than
one door in that visit.

Sarah W. Bartlett has multiple poetry publications in Aurorean, LiteraryMama, Minerva Rising, and SheMom; and one prior online publication, “For Keeps,” on Halfway Down The Stairs. Her first chapbook of poems is Into the Great Blue (Finishing Line Press, 2010); and currently in-press with Orbis Books (release September 2013) is HEAR ME, SEE ME: Incarcerated Women Write, co-edited with Marybeth Christie Redmond. She authored a chapter in the critically acclaimed Women on Poetry: Writing, Revising, Publishing and Teaching (McFarland & Co., 2012); two in Contemporary American Women: Our Defining Passages, (All Things That Matter Press, 2009); and a personal essay in Ars Medica. She operates Women Writing for (a) Change–Vermont, a creative writing program for women writing for self-discovery and social change. Sarah is staving off empty-nesthood by writing about the five children she raised and what she has learned from tending gardens, cat, and dog with her co-bicycling husband. She blogs at and

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Such beautiful, touching poems, snapshots from the heart. A true tribute to what was obviously a very close and warm relationship. Thank you for sharing these.
Thank you, Sara. I love 'snapshots from the heart.' So true. It pleases me to hear that they touched you.
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