Skip to Content

Other Mothers

By Persis M. Karim

Their sons who speak of a cause
As if it were their two feet
beneath them. That they could hold an idea
and a weapon at the same time.

The way they could fool themselves
Into thinking they were pure
And righteous, that the great stories
of God or country could keep them safe.

When my son handed me an Israeli army shirt,
asking me to sew a button on its collar, I knew
my refusal would be the beginning
of a long goodbye, of steeling myself

for an angry boy with an inkling
of manhood, undeterred
by what I said or didn't say.
His determination grew
in his shoulders,
in sharp silences.

I thought of those other mothers--
their sons, who, whether with a gun or a car,
could find the white light of belief
that would sow the seeds
of an incalculable grief.

Added: Wednesday, July 2, 2014  /  Used with permission.
Persis M. Karim

Persis M. Karim lives in the People's Republic of Berkeley, CA, and teaches literature and creative writing at San Jose State University. She is the editor and contributing poet to Let Me Tell You Where I've Been: New Writing by Women of the Iranian Diaspora (2006). Her poetry has appeared in numerous literary journals including Caesura, Alimentum, Di-verse-city, HeartLodge, and She is grateful for the way poetry can bring us to our senses and to our humanity.

On March 31, 2010, Persis's stepson Kyle Strang (16) and their neighbor Prentice Gray, Jr. (19) were killed in a car accident. To learn about Kyle and the trip his father, Craig Strang, recently took to Israel and Palestine with thirteen of Kyle's Berkeley High School classmates to honor Kyle's memory, go to

Other poems by this author