“The Prodigal’s Mother Speaks to God”

When he returned a second time,
the straps of his sandals broken,
his robe stained with wine,

it was not as easy to forgive.

By then his father
was long gone himself,

leaving me with my other son, the sullen one
whose anger is the instrument he tunes
from good morning on.

I know.

There’s no room for a man
in the womb.

But when I saw my youngest coming from far off,
so small he seemed, a kid
unsteady on its legs.

She-goat
what will you do? I thought,
remembering when he learned to walk.

Shape shifter! It’s like looking through water—
the heat bends, it blurs everything: brush, precipice.

A shambles between us.

“The Prodigal’s Mother Speaks to God,” from The Knot Garden by Allison Funk. Copyright © 2002 by Allison Funk. Used by permission of Sheep Meadow Press and the author.

This poem was originally read in the Poetry Unbound episode “A Poem for Complicated Stories of Love.”

Reflections