For Mother’s Day, a Poem about Unrequited Love

It’s time again for Mother’s Day, and we’re pleased to present a special poem by Harriet Shenkman, Professor Emerita at City University of New York. She just won second place for poetry in a national contest sponsored by the Women’s National Book Association. This one is about Harriet’s mom … and what she did with her Singer sewing machine. It’s called “Unrequited Love.”

Harriet Shenkman's mother.

Harriet Shenkman’s mother.

She sang her siren-song
bent over the Singer,
knee at the metal lever.

She tried to hug me with
mother-daughter outfits,
flowered midriffs
and matching skirts,
princess-waist jumper,
velvet bow beneath the
bust, peach dress with
raised white polka dots,
Chinese-red sheath,
slits down each side.

I spurned her advances
for clothes off-the-rack
like the other girls had.


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