In my earliest recollection of you, was it necessary to use a switch on my buttocks when I yanked my sister's pigtails?
In using the "(expletive deleted)"-word once, did you feel awful to shove a bar of Ivory soap in my mouth?
Were you pained to twist my ear all the way home when you caught me riding B&O boxcar ladders?
Had you suffered guilt to let my all-Cs report card fall to the floor from your hand and ask, "How does it feel to be average?"
When I stole a stick of Bazooka bubble gum from Kessler's Market, did you realize your grip on the back of my neck walking me to the store with confession and apology might hurt your hand?
Did you ever think your math might be wrong when I chugged four bottles of your Pabst from the fridge and you grounded me for a month?
What lesson did I miss when I came home with a split lip, told you Sally Simms punched me, and you smacked the side of my head?
How had you figured out I'd eaten all the X-mas cookies you'd baked and hidden; and then made me eat spinach and broccoli (an early bete noire) for the next three suppers?
When I forgot my father's birthday, was it for health or retribution on my birth date that you gave me a bowl of beets with one burning candle centered?
And in lighting up a Dutch Master, remember how you snatched and snuffed it, waiting patiently while I retched and greened like jade to eat it under your stern eyes, my last rolled leaf ever?
Today, 25 Mother's Days after you flew south, exclamations of balloons soar up.
But not so high as your mothering.
-- BINK OWEN, Walla Walla