Sunday, May 21, 2017

The Long Time

I’m not certain if I ever knew my mother
stretching back over the decades
and all that remains are a few scraps,
skin tight over the bones

a few echoes of love and laughter
a few memories of angst and anger
a brittle look, a sad sigh
leading to the last helpless moments

alone and apart I hid
within my selfish world
reaching out occasionally
to grasp at need.

I’m not certain if anyone knew her
proud and private
carefully arranging the outside face
the only one that was allowed

a few times the facade softened
to let reality out or in
a moment of truth among truths
each I hold

on a New Year’s Eve at midnight,
in a violent summer storm,
in a hospital steeped in morphine
dreaming aloud.

I’m not certain if I ever mourned my mother
stretching back over the decades
and all I see are my wants 
and what is missing

a few fragments
strewn across the memories,
separated the real from the unreal
the myth from the history

a time when all seemed lost
a time when pain overwhelmed
a time when fear replaced hope
a time when the future stopped.

I’m not certain one can ever know another
disguise is a first nature
time creates truth from the lie
still, at the core, the lie remains

to define life
to exist life
to contain life
to lose life

cold in the coffin of the womb
the fading light of the birth
nursing at the breast of death
preparing for the night.

I’m not certain I recall her then
clutching the final breathes of ancient airs
swaddled in ice to cool the fever
sifting through life’s short memories

a subtle gasp
and life is gone
and I am alone
waiting for nothing

the bright lights brighter than before
the cold room colder than before
stillness in a sea of motion
a phone call to home.

I'm certain a memory clings:
a child has forgotten his homework
a surprise knock at the classroom door
gasps from the children

a murmur of voices and a call to me
and I approach an angel
framed in her halo of beauty
the sun dimmed

as the door closed
again I heard the murmurs
my moment of pride
leading to the last helpless moments.

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