For Momma | Literary Arts | Pittsburgh | Pittsburgh City Paper

For Momma

She would lounge in the old rocking chair

with knitting in her hands and a big, sore

thumb, said she wouldn't wear a thimble, ever.

Everything Momma did was underlined with

that kind of intensity. That kind of longing

couldn't hide in thimbles, making the soreness

something she earned.

On Christmas Eve, the musk-colored carpet sparkled

from the loose pieces of garlands falling from the tree,

making the entire room sparkle like the inside of a globe

you shook really hard to make all pretty, except when all the glitter settled

there was no Jack Frost snowman or red-nosed reindeer, no scenic town;

there was only Momma, crouched on all fours, hungrily

tightening all two hundred Christmas bulbs, the blues,

the yellows, the purples, reds last, scrupulously searching

for the broken link, the painful memory that short-circuited

all the memories of good, of even us, her two little girls --

the reason why it felt so good when a tiny drop of blood trickled down her thumb,

pain easier to bear than loss --

her hands, trembling with each bolting of translucent lights,

a torture masked by voracious greed, an unpleasant smile,

and we slept on hope for twelve whole nights when we asked

Santa to make the Christmas light for Momma,

but on the thirteenth, we slept on coal.

-- Rimma Hussain

Rimma Hussain is the first-place winner in poetry in the Writer's Cafe Contest

at the University of Pittsburgh. During the school year, she lives in Oakland, and during the summer in the mountains of Johnstown. Many writers featured in Chapter & Verse are guests of Prosody, produced by Jan Beatty and Ellen Wadey. Prosody airs every Tuesday at 7 p.m. on independent radio, WYEP 91.3 FM.