Mother by Edna Shochat


My mother and Edna

I see my mother in the corridor.

She has come to live with me.

I ask her:

Now? Why not years ago

when you were young and strong,

when you could help me iron shirts

and feed the hummingbirds

at my kitchen window?

Why did you wait until you were tired

and would rather stay home than go out

to watch shorebirds by the bay

or a late-night picture show?

My mother doesn’t answer.

She can’t say a word.

She just keeps looking at me –

as I watch her small, gray-haired reflection

in my hallway mirror.


Edna Shochat grew up in Israel and studied art and graphic design. She came to the US in 1971 and worked in advertising until moving to Palo Alto, California in 1995, where she joined the Palo Alto Art Center Foundation and served on the board of the Dragon Theatre.

A journey through breast cancer, in 2011, led her to discover poetry. “What began as writing therapy has become a vehicle that has transformed my journey through aging.”  Her poems are often inspired by photographs and visual images, pictures followed by verse and form “Notes from a camera.”

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  1. Suzette Kitselman says:

    What a lovely poem. I, too, am a C survivor, and also took care of my Mother when she was terminal with it. She was the same, yet different, only because of time. It’s amazing how our roles change with each other as time goes on, yet we are the same people. Time is the ingredient that makes our equation a different dynamic.

  2. Edna Shochat says:

    Your kind words have touched my heart. (Time is indeed full of surprises – from FaceBook Friends to Soul Mates in just an instant.) Thank you, Suzette.

    • Edna Shochat says:

      Obviously, the poem is about myself, and about each of us; we don’t see ourselves in a true way, as others see us. Even our own reflection, in the mirror, seems like someone else, albeit familiar. When the physical reflection of ourselves does not match the one in our mind’s eye (forever looking younger, to match the way we feel inside), reality is surprising and more than a tad sad. Thank you, Doron, for your comment and sentiments.

  3. Joan Bigwood says:

    My mother would often say, when looking in the mirror, “How did Mother get in there?” Every time I look in the mirror these days I say “Don’t worry, you’re older. This was bound to happen.” And then I run screaming.

  4. Dorit Amikam says:

    A mother daughter bond is forever. Is eternal. As is your poem. As are your words coming from the most deepest inner self and projecting your, ours, most inner deepest feelings…to our the un separable burned in our soul-image of us, with our mothers, of our mothers and us…your poem is a whole world and more…touching, beautiful and ever so dreaming, wanting, needing…

  5. Edna Shochat says:

    Thank you, Dorit. Your words touch my heart and make me humble.
    My mother was beautiful beyond words, her good looks surpassed only by the beauty of her soul. Sadly, time did not treat her kindly. We are powerless against the tyranny of time and no money in the world could turn back the clock to buy a single hour.
    What we do possess is control over how we deal with life.
    While my mother forever bemoaned her fading beauty – “how much more beautiful I used to be” – I face the mirror each morning and tell myself with a smile: “Enjoy what you see, because it will never look that good again.”

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