Jim Hiner


Mama had a worn out cloth bag
Hanging out on the line.
It was full of old clothespins
The wooden and the springy kind.

She used them when she hung the wash
Out on the line to dry.
I was too short to reach the line,
But that didn't mean I didn't try.

She said, 'Don't wish away a minute,
Time's such a precious thing.
You will reach the line in due time,
You don't know what tomorrow will bring.'

My Mother taught me to read
By reading poetry to me.
It was like shining a light in the darkness
Or teaching a blind man to see.

She taught me the value of work
To take pride in what I do.
Lessons she learned from her Grandmother
Lessons that I think are still true.

I watched her every move,
Whether it was cooking or sewing or crochet.
I didn't know I was learning,
I was just passing the time away.

Now I can reach the clothes line,
But I approached much of my life that way
Wanting to get to tomorrow
Just wishing my life away.

I wished away my yesterdays,
Trying to get to tomorrow.
Now if I could call back just an hour,
I would beg, steal, or borrow.

I would like to hear her laugh again.
I would like to see her smile.
I would like to sit and talk again
For just a little while.

Now Mama sits and sleeps a lot
As she slowly fades away.
I would trade ten of my tomorrows
For a little bit of yesterday.

Mama stopped talking a little while back,
I guess she said all she had to say.
She stares out the window most of the time,
It's the same thing day after day.

Daddy's doing the best he can,
It's a big job for just one man.
He feeds her and cleans her and talks to her,
But Mama doesn't always understand.

I feel completely helpless
It's a difficult thing to see
It's hard to be there for her,
But she was always there for me.

I know we own a debt to our parents,
But we pay it to our kids.
It's like being at an auction
Where no one gets to bid.

Sometimes I curse the clock,
Time's such a brutal thief,
It slowly takes away our days
And causes pain and grief.

I wished away so many moments,
Over so many years,
If I could call them back I would,
It would save so many tears.

I long to sit around the table,
And tell her Kelly is going to take a wife,
I want to talk about my family,
I want her in my life.

Today as I drove through my old neighborhood
I saw clothespins on our old line
I had to stop and write this down,
I had to make a rhyme.

I couldn't reach to help back then,
I thought growing up would change it somehow.
But it still seems beyond my reach.
I don't know how to help her now.

Submitted: Sunday, September 15, 2013
Edited: Monday, September 16, 2013

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Poet's Notes about The Poem

By Jim Hiner about his Mother with Alzheimer's

Comments about this poem (Clothespins by Jim Hiner )

  • Veteran Poet - 1,755 Points Bernard Snyder (12/11/2013 6:04:00 PM)

    Well-written poem about a very touching matter. Congrats'...Well deserved! (Report) Reply

  • Rookie Ravindra Kumar (12/4/2013 3:56:00 AM)

    Indeed! Thoughtful piece of work. I agree with the psychology of thy mind. Congratulations. (Report) Reply

  • Rookie Anita Sehgal (11/30/2013 11:00:00 PM)

    so very beautiful and touching.. (Report) Reply

  • Rookie - 39 Points Malini Kadir (11/30/2013 12:54:00 AM)

    I almost lost myself to this disease......and in these lines and poetry... I realize how my family must feel (Report) Reply

  • Rookie - 47 Points Rosmin Elsa Mohan (11/27/2013 12:32:00 AM)

    This is just amazing Jim...
    i particularly looove the lines,

    I know we own a debt to our parents,
    But we pay it to our kids.
    It's like being at an auction
    Where no one gets to bid.

    How true!

    Congrats once again! (Report) Reply

  • Gold Star - 5,611 Points Lorraine Margueritte Gasrel Black (11/22/2013 10:34:00 AM)

    how sad to watch your Mom wither away with that debilitating disease.At least you have good memories of your childhood.Always have hope for tomorrow's brighter day...lovely poem and congratulations on your win.. (Report) Reply

  • Veteran Poet - 1,842 Points Babatunde Aremu (11/14/2013 2:50:00 AM)

    This is a wonderful poem. It gives detail experience of a mother- child relationship. Very emotional (Report) Reply

  • Rookie - 2 Points Luna Tsuki (11/9/2013 4:20:00 AM)

    A heartbreaking story sewed into a beautiful poem. Congratulations on your win. (Report) Reply

  • Rookie - 0 Points Alexander Coppedge (11/5/2013 11:13:00 AM)

    A lovely story. Well expressed. Loved how you close this art. Simply wonderful. Very creative. Thank you. And congratulations. (Report) Reply

  • Bronze Star - 2,308 Points Ken E Hall (11/4/2013 2:24:00 AM)

    such a beauty a story we all live a sure fire winner for originality how you set the poem day by day regards (Report) Reply

  • Freshman - 687 Points Kavya . (11/4/2013 12:52:00 AM)

    amazing poem Jim....................so true that we always owe to our parents, but we pay it our kids.............its hard for us to be there with them throughout, but they were always there for us...............Lifes a game, which each one of us play, things like this are beyond our control, which we have to pay.

    ALSO HEARTY CONGRATULATIONS TO YOU FOR BEING A RUNNER UP IN THE PH CONTEST. This poem deserves a superior place. (Report) Reply

  • Silver Star - 3,354 Points Patricia Grantham (11/2/2013 6:09:00 PM)

    Truly a phenomenal write using clothespin as the center of the story
    yet telling a compelling story about this dreadful disease that robbed
    your mother mentally and physically. Took a lot of courage to tell it I am sure.
    Congratulations on your win. It was well deserved. The best always. (Report) Reply

  • Rookie - 105 Points Mehri Mehraban (11/1/2013 9:34:00 AM)

    an amazing poem you composed.
    It reminds me the novel In Search of Lost Time written by Marcel Proust.
    The role of memory is central to the novel and your poem. A great idea and a great
    Result. (Report) Reply

  • Rookie - 8 Points Sj Holland (11/1/2013 8:29:00 AM)

    Enjoyed reading this poignant poem, to which most of us can relate.. Congrats on your win! (Report) Reply

  • Bronze Star - 2,344 Points Hans Vr (10/31/2013 9:12:00 PM)

    Congrats Jim, that is a wonderful poem.
    I truly recognise the helplessness we all went through (my father succumbed of it recently)
    The best we can do perhaps is accept and be there anyhow as often as we can
    And yet it is so tough... it is such a horrible disease! (Report) Reply

  • Rookie - 423 Points Krishnakumar Chandrasekar Nair (10/31/2013 3:51:00 AM)

    Our debts to parents will always be unpaid
    Too little time left before we realize its too late
    So now in this moment hug them before they are laid
    In some quiet place deep down according to their fate....

    Very touching poem with several beautiful intense lines and this poem should have been first. Welcome all ye poets to my page too. (Report) Reply

  • Freshman - 962 Points Jasbir Chatterjee (10/30/2013 11:29:00 PM)

    Such a wonderful poem...reminds me of my own mother... (Report) Reply

  • Rookie - 442 Points Yasmeen Khan (10/30/2013 11:00:00 AM)

    Congrtats on winning. I've read first time this poem and am greatly inspired by it. (Report) Reply

  • Rookie Kaylin Ruth Adarne (10/30/2013 5:45:00 AM)

    So heartfelt. You deserve to win. I am so happy for you. I wish I could write something like this in the future. more powers. (Report) Reply

  • Rookie - 45 Points Rusty Gibson (10/28/2013 8:29:00 AM)

    The best doesn't always win. This is incredible story. (Report) Reply

Read all 41 comments »

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