Carrie Oeding


You can be sitting with a friend, talking about how you recently

saw a mother wiping everything, then turn to your left to see

everything was not wiped, as there is a mother next to a garbage can, wiping it

before her child throws something away. One is wiping a child's face

before it is dirty. One wipes everything but memory. The ceiling is dirty. And another mother,

wiping all of the trains that will take you somewhere. There's an arm reaching across the aisle with a wipe. Surely it is a mother's arm, as mothers' arms look like arms that wipe, which look like barges. Two mothers are wiping the journey. One is wiping a drift while another is wiping a compassed direction.  And too many to count are on the floor, wiping the marbles that will roll and kiss something not wiped.

One wipes away a season until she is wiping a new season in. What will shine? I don't know, as mothers don't have time to polish. 

You will not see them. There's a toy you step over. But you will have seen enough. You know what's important to them, without ever looking, or knowing.

What's also hard to see, 

is that they never wipe down things they shouldn't. Like cake or a bee. Or directions.

All of the stains you aren't dealing with, will be wiped. The lack of stains on your clothes should not be touched.

If they ever do anything they shouldn't, mothers look like bees that you're not happy to see.
Everything they should do is a problem you can't see.

When wiping, the mothers look like children. Like children who know what to do. Like children wiping, or children painting, or children swiping hair from their mothers' faces.

Unless the mothers are upset. Then, while wiping, they look like a pot boiling water.

Just a normal pot of normal boiling water.

If they hide that they are upset, or you are upset with them and not hiding it, or they feel ignored but are not upset about it, or they are thinking about what else they should be wiping, or if they wonder who else could be wiping this, or they are quite happy to be wiping at the moment, or they are pretending to wipe, or they are looking forward to what they will be doing when they are done, or they are talking to themselves, or they are crying, or silent, or saying your name while wiping,

then they look like a pot of boiling water, but with something in it. Like frozen green beans.

Mothers are wiping something without which they would still be mothers. Wiping does not make them mothers, as I just said.

When you see a pot of boiling water, you always see a mother.




I like multiples in visual art installations and performances, hundreds or thousands of things or people in a piece. I had this mind when making this poem. I am also a mom. I like how artist Joey Fauerso puts her children in [some of her art videos].