Maria Mazziotti Gillan's poem "How Many Hours" appears in the Mom Egg Review's latest issue, Volume 13.
How Many Hours
“The world is too much with us; late and soon,
Getting and spending we lay waste our powers:”
-- William Wordsworth
How many hours have I spent pushing a shopping cart
through Pathmark or Bradlees or Target? How many days
when the children were small did I place Jennifer in the baby seat
and John in the shopping cart and walk through the aisles
of Bradlees because the walls of that tiny apartment in married
student housing were closing in on me, because Dennis was
in grad school and busy and I had the children and I was so lonely
that I walked those aisles to use up the time in the day
that seemed endless.
There was nothing I wanted in all those stacks
of objects—toasters and towels and blenders and sheets,
but I had to keep walking, counting off the minutes
and even in the grocery store where I had to go
because I needed to buy food for my family, even there
I felt the minutes of my life draining away
while I waited in line and tried to keep
the children entertained. Oh, all those endless hours,
the grumpy looks on the faces of the people in those aisles,
those people waiting as though
they were trying to fill the Grand Canyon inside them.
In these tacky aisles there is nothing I want or need
except this daily excursion that I use to prove
to myself that I can survive these mundane days,
time like a dark tunnel I must travel through
to get to the other side.
Today, so many years later I can feel Jennifer as a baby
in my arms, John with his hand on my chest while I read
a book to him. Yes, I loved them and love them still,
and I remember my mother telling me that I would come to long
for the time when my children were hanging on my skirt, and she
was right. How quickly our children grow and disappear
into their new lives. How much we long to have them back
smelling of baby powder and shampoo, but time refuses
to move backwards. Now, I try
to avoid shopping in big box stores, where the past slaps me
in the face, the memory of those forlorn moments so long ago,
when I walked the aisles with my children in the cart
and wished for something or someone to save me.
Maria's Official Site is at MariaGillan.com. Her latest publication is the poetry and art collection, The Girls in the Chartreuse Jackets.