I See Her in Nature

          The sky is so blue and friendly
          almost as though it is her smile
          or maybe her laugh
          or both

          I have no sense of its infinite possibility
          ceding to the blackness of outer space
          going on and on past the moon
          past Mars

          No, this sky is immediate, personal
          happy like a baby blanket
          comforting like Mother
          and mine

          I am shielded, illuminated, protected
          under its canopy of brightness
          so long as daylight shines
          safe

In memory of my mother:
Gusty and Fresh
Futile Seeking
Bright Radiance
Cold Rage
Despair
Grievous Loss

 

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Risen

Easter was my favorite holiday when I was a child
Somehow it was always sunny, the warm rays
          of the daystar shining in through the panes
          of the living room windows
          gleaming on the polished hardwood floor
          brightening the paneling around the hearth
          warming the space, like a nest might be warm
          and shining through the colored cellophane of the baskets
          casting a glow of pink or green or yellow
          wherever the light fell

I felt safe and happy

Today’s living room, that of my adulthood
          holds the same promise
          sunlight flooding through the many square panes
          of the three windows
          making rectangles of bright squares on the oak floorboards
          shining through the suncatchers crafted by my daughter
          scattering patches of crimson, royal blue, and emerald green
          wherever the light slants
          warming the space, like a nest might be warm

I should have wanted to come in from the cold

In other seasons, the warm quietude would nourish me
          but in the season of my mother’s death
          I feel the weight of grief whenever it is still
          the bright quiet stillness of refuge
          should have her presence in it
          does have her presence in it
          and yet she is gone, most grievously gone
          I can only miss her and miss her and know that she is gone
          as I rest in the warm quietude of my room

No wonder I long for the brisk busyness
          of the bright and cold and windy day outside
          she is present in the wind and the bother
          the way she always was, ready to go and be and do
          seek adventures, make new friends, savor new experiences
          she is not gone in the great outdoors
          but meets me at very corner
          in the very slap of each gust of wind
          resurrected within the hustle and bustle
          my mother who was so thoughtful
          but who loved to laugh and climb the heights

There in her milieu—lively and brisk and warmly bright
          all at the same time—I greet her

In memory of my mother:
Gusty and Fresh
Futile Seeking
Bright Radiance
Cold Rage
Despair
Grievous Loss

 

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Gusty and Fresh

Gusty and fresh and filled with sun
The air carries a sense of happy busyness
          getting things done
          meeting newness at every turn
          finding joy in unexpected corners

I could stay out in it forever
          rejoicing in the changeable breeze on my cheek
          squinting against the brightness
          sniffing the clean, cold aroma of winter

The wind’s energy fills me up
          prompting me to go out and explore
          to seek adventure, to make a new friend
          and to trust that life will bring me its best

But the cold nips my fingers now
          pinching them cruelly
          and the wind has whipped tears from my eyes
          which freeze on the delicate skin below my lashes

I resist the retreat indoors where
          in the stillness I must confront what I’ve forgotten
          feel the loss and grieve it
          with no bright, busy wind to distract me

In memory of my mother:
Bright Radiance
Cold Rage
Despair
Exiled
No Beauty
Grievous Loss

 

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Futile Seeking

No matter where you might be, I will find you

If I could search the right telephone book
          I’d find your number
And when I called I’d ask for Dad to put you on
          we’d talk and talk, and I’d know you were there

If I could buy the right train ticket
          I’d board that train
And when I arrived you’d be on the platform waiting
          we’d hug and hug, and I’d know you were here

If I could look in the right places
If I could speak the right language
If I could do the impossible
          I’d find you
And then we’d be together again
          mother and daughter
          friend and friend
          you and me

How can you be gone?
You were too real to ever die
Surely I can find you somewhere
          and yet I don’t
You have gone, truly gone, and I can’t fathom it
          oh, Mother, come back
          I need you
          come back

Even beyond death, I still seek you

In memory of my mother:
Bright Radiance
Cold Rage
Despair
Exiled
No Beauty
Grievous Loss

 

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Bright Radiance

The icicle glistens in the sun, liquidity given sculptural form
          yet melting in the light’s warmth
The dripping water taps the porch floor
          like a heartbeat
Regular, reassuring
          All is well
          All is well

I sit in a pool of calm stillness
          at peace for a spell
The sun’s brightness cheers me
Its warmth soothes me
Pervasive brilliance cradling me
          All is well
          I am safe

Even the snow, hateful a moment ago, now upholds me
          receiving the sunlight and spreading it
          everywhere, from horizon to horizon
The whole earth is bright, bright
          with the sun’s radiance

So I rest . . . for now
          upheld by brilliance below
          nourished by brilliance above
          there is only light

Light blazes all round me
          light so strong that in its
          cradling of me, it enters into me
          and shines the darkness away

          Blessed be
          All is well

In memory of my mother:
Cold Rage
Despair
Exiled
No Beauty
Grievous Loss

 

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Cold Rage

          The sky is a hard blue
          I love this shade of blue
                    Usually I love it
                    so bright, so fierce, so definite
                    But today it makes me angry

          The snow is so white, so bright
          I love the fallen snow on a winter’s day
          The light it radiates, reflects, amplifies
                    Usually I love it
                    but today I see its coldness
                    unfriendly, frozen-edged, cutting
                    Today I hate it

          Or, no, I don’t hate it
          I just hate everything

          Hate the medical bills, the unrepaired house
                    the feebleness of my body, my beloved child’s disability
                    unrelenting responsibility, the impossibility of it all
          Hate all of it
          Hate it

          The bright sky over the crusting snow
                    shouts my hatred
                    like an angel of hell
                    like a brazen trumpet

          Or else mocks it
                    mocks me

In memory of my mother:
Bright Radiance
Despair
Exiled
No Beauty
Grievous Loss

 

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Despair

 
The oak is old, gray, and gaunt
No leaves grace his spreading limbs
The sky glows through his framed spaces
      but its light lacks force enough to regenerate him
Anchored in age alone, the patriarch presides

At his side, a maple garbs herself in dress of gold
She is younger, but not young
The dull splendor of her leaves inspires courtesy
      but their beauty presages her withering
Poised on the cusp of decline, the matriarch glances back

Nature goes down to death for rebirth
The cold, dark entombs her in frozen earth for only a season
Spring’s strengthening sun will raise her from the deeps
      but change the maple and the oak for a human daughter and her father
Facing only loss, they grieve

In latening autumn, they stand, they two
      lost to hope
      lost to warmth
      lost

 
 
In memory of my mother:
Beauty in the Close
Upwelling
Beacons Unreachable
Too Late
One Crossing
Grievous Loss

 

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Exiled

 
Even when she lived, when I walked alone
          in the autumn woods
          the depth was missing

It should not have been

Sun shone through the russet leaves
Shadows stippled the forest floor
Tree trunks stretched away up a slope
          giving depth and beauty

Or should have done

But alone in the woods, I was so alone
          as though all the world’s people
          had taken ship for a paradise

And left me behind

Only when I walked in the woods
          with you
          were they beautiful

Then, ah, then did the solitude
          hang golden and pregnant with it
          welcoming us in

As though divinity resounded in the silence
          brightening the crimsons, deepening the contrasts
          bringing paradise into being on the echo

We were two lovers in the world’s first garden

Even now your presence might give
          me comfort in the woods
          but I cannot reach them

My grief parts me from places
          of restoration and rebirth

 
 
In memory of my mother:
Beauty in the Close
Upwelling
Beacons Unreachable
Too Late
One Crossing
Grievous Loss

 

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No Beauty

 
Once I looked at the fringe of bare winter branches
against the sky’s horizon, and thought
          Nature’s lace, so beautiful

It is still beautiful
          but cold, so cold

Blue sky, cool like the season
black branches, dead without their leaves
          The composition is distant, with no anchorage for my heart

Such abstract beauty beguiled me, when I was
warm, happy
          Anchored

Now I drift in a world strange to me
          the safe harbor is no more

With all havens closed, none open, abstract beauties chill me
already too numb and aching with it
          Find me warmth

But there is no warmth in a world
grown harder and colder
          Barren

There is no succor, no consolation
          no beauty worth the name

 
 
In memory of my mother:
Beauty in the Close
Upwelling
Beacons Unreachable
Too Late
One Crossing
Grievous Loss

 

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Beauty in the Close

          Direct sunlight flattens the sepia leaves
               of the autumnal crepe myrtle

 
          An opaque matte brown, the pointed ovals
               rustle in the breeze

 
          Oh, they are beautiful enough, forming a delicate
               pattern of leaf and frond

 
          But when the sun’s radiance shines through them
               transforming them into the panes of a chapel window

 
          Ah, then they become magical
               glowing rich russet and rose and mahogany
                    a glory of sacred glass
                         revealing the divine foundations

 
          Of everything
 

In memory of my mother:
Upwelling
Beacons Unreachable
Too Late
One Crossing
Grievous Loss

 

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