I bought for my mother,
A marmalade treat,
To have with her breakfast
On toast for to eat,
But next morning
She never got up from her bed;
From her pillow,
She did not raise up her tired head,
So she never again will taste
Thick-cut orange spread,
That she so used to love
On her golden-grilled bread,
But forever, the memory of her
Will not fade,
When I spread my toast with
Her orange marmalade.

Kathleen Mortensen @ 2016


Poem For My Mother

I wasn’t really paying attention,
when all this transpired.
Were you?

Somehow, your arms are no longer
the comforting embrace
I remember.

How can they be?
You need me more than I do you.

I can see things more clearly,
reason better, make sense of things
you cannot.
(You don’t like to admit that.)

It’s not that you’re a fool.
It’s just some of the facts
get lost; I’m the one who finds them.
It’s me, who now knows best.

How did it happen?
Where did those years disappear?

I look in the mirror
and still see your little girl,
but the world sees, I’m all grown up.

Once, you rinsed my hair in the kitchen sink
and buckled my Buster Browns.
Now you’re my concern,
though you still think the shoe
is on the other foot.

Kat Mortensen©2009

Dear Mother (A Poem For Remembrance Day)

Dear Mother,

It’s me, John, a warrior, made
I’m all kitted out,
With a gun and a blade.
My boots are so heavy,
My helmet’s too tight,
But I’m ready at last,
To join those in the fight.

Dear Mama,

I’ve only a minute to pen
This letter, before
We march off once again.
My boots are so heavy,
My helmet’s too tight,
But the General says go!
So I’m quelling my fright.

Dear Mum,

This stain’s not a tear from your son,
It’s only the oil that I
Used for my gun.
My boots are so heavy,
My helmet’s too tight,
But I’ll follow the charge,
When our foe is in sight.

Dear Ma,

I’m sorry, I’m not coming home
For your Thanksgiving dinner—
I’m off to the Somme.
My boots are so heavy,
My helmet’s too tight,
But I’ve made it so far—
Say my prayers every night.


It’s so muddy and
Cold in this trench,
Each night as I lie in this
Filth and the stench.
My boots are so heavy,
My helmet’s too tight,
But when dawn comes it’s over
The edge, wrong or right.

Dear …

Kat Mortensen©2008

Belly Button



For the first time ever,
I noticed my navel
(In the fleshy folds of gravity’s pull)
And spared a thought for you.

Your name has never leapt to mind—
Before, when I’ve looked down
At this indent I’ve borne
For fifty-four years.

Inside you, is an indelible scar
That traces the source of my being;
Outside, my belly-button
Is our keepsake.

Since we were severed,
Our bond has grown weaker,
But without each other,
We would be life-less.

Kathleen Mortensen©2014

This Inheritance

Splitting Hairs
standing in front 
of the mirror,
i wield a comb
in my right hand
i rake the end-tooth
from the frontal bone
back to the parietal—
wending my way
through wet strands
if i produce
a path on the left
i can see
those familiar foreheads
of my father’s line
in mine.
if i go right
my mother
stares me in the eye.
if i part
down the middle,
is that me?
Kat Mortensen©2013