Marilyn Zelke-Windau

A Message on Mother’s Day


Sometimes I wake up in the night.
Usually it’s because of your breathing,
your snoring, your kick—leg thrust.

Last night, it wasn’t about you.
It was about my sister.
She sent a card to me—
a mother’s day card.
It wasn’t for me.
It was for our mother,
who has been dead for nine years.

I go to cemetery sometimes
to talk to her, to Dad and to my brother,
to my Grandmother and Uncle
and the Grandfather I never knew.

She wanted me to send a card to Mom,
she, who is thick into dementia,
genetically gifted from our father.

It’s a nice card.
Mom loved sending cards for all occasions.
If one card was good, three were better!
My sister remembers this.
She knows a card is meaningful.

I will place the card in a zip-lock bag.
I will take it to Sunnyside Cemetery.
I will dig for it a shallow safety deposit box.

Your love will be guarded there,
in her earth place.
She will know, even though she always knew,
that you, her first-born, was special.

She will remember, fondly,
your baby curls, your daffodil party
at age five, your ballerina recital
on toes, your mastering Brahms
at piano lessons, your Wendy in drama
downtown for Peter Pan.

She will feel your presence,
know your longing,
want the hug which is always there.





Marilyn Zelke-Windau started writing poems at age thirteen. Her work has appeared in many printed and online venues and anthologies. Her Adventures in Paradise (Finishing Line Press) and Momentary Ordinary (Pebblebrook Press)were published in 2014. She includes her maiden name to honor her father, who was also a writer. She can be reached at