Today I’m sharing a poem by Tova Hinda Siegel, whose work I first encountered during the PoetrySuperHighway’s Great Poetry Exchange one year. I’m thinking about home these days: what it means, how it functions, and what it means to leave and come back to it. I’m also thinking about what it means to be a writer, and how one accomplishes that in the face of a thousand other tasks.
Not Writing about Home
I search for the poem
just as I searched for my mother,
sick in her giant bed. My father slept
next to her, his snoring
reliable as Montreal winter. Days filled
with bitter snow and blinding cold
melted by the glow in the fireplace.
I search for the sounds and smells that
will grow into words to fill the page.
Bubby’s chocolate cake drifting
through the walls,
the Shabbos dinners raucous with laughter,
the original-of-its-kind dishwasher,
cranking and buzzing
(my father always the first with the latest).
The TV in my mother’s room drones into the night;
the antiseptic stench of her illness
mixes with the aroma
of half eaten chocolates on her bed.
Like a doomed species
the pages refuse
to evolve. Stubborn and obstinate
like the child I was in those days.
My piano teacher fled
crying when I refused to practice,
So willful, I almost failed 8th grade,
homework cast aside,
my chances as a ballerina evaporated
because I chose a boyfriend’s visit over an audition.
Immediate pleasure over long term gain.
I would give birth to a poem,
stubborn and obstinate,
I try to revisit that place.
The warmth of the winter rooms,
the sound of my father
improvising at the organ,
my brother’s incessant violinning,
but the door opens
only briefly, teasing me
with hints of what’s remembered,
then closes once again
Tova Hinda Siegel, a writer/poet, is a midwife, cellist, mother, grandmother and great-grandmother of many children living around the world. After earning a BA from Antioch and an MS from USC, she began writing and has studied with Jack Grapes, Tresha Faye Haefner, Taffy Brodesser-Akner among others. Her work has appeared in Salon.com, I’ll Take Wednesdays, On The Bus, MacQueens’s Quinterly, Gyroscope Review, Poetry SuperHighway, Writing in a Woman’s Voice, Better than Starbucks, and several anthologies. Her first collection, Uncertain Resident, was published recently. She lives in Los Angeles with her husband.