I am not your dying son, I thought,
as my wife gave me the diagnosis,
remembering my mom in her dying chair.
I will not pass into final memories
watching the Pope in America.
“Bless me, Papa”,
will not be my last words.
I do not believe in my mother’s God
though He did write the best proverbs.
I do not sleep with a Bible on my pillow.
I wake up feeling my heartbeat and breath.
“I am going to die,” she said to me,
days before she passed, on our stroll
to the mailbox, school traffic humming,
finches at the feeder, magnolias blooming
removing her from the usual guard spot
at the window for sightings of the mail truck,
hoping for the delivery of the slightest news.
“You know, I’ve been talking to Jesus
because I don’t want to go to hell.”
“We’ve been through hell already,
haven’t we,” I said.
I imagined a weeping Mary
telling Jesus on the cross
“You never told me
anything of this.”
“Your poem made my day,”
were her last words on our walk,
the last she spoke to me.
A memory of the evenings
of my childhood,
washed over me:
The slice of night
as I crept from my bed
to watch her praying the rosary.
Those last days she made a lullaby
with a hint of elegy in the song.
The box of her mind walked there.
The words were nonsense,
just reflections of the melody,
part of all the shining on the road.
like her mother before,
like her son will,
like we all, like life.
I regret not telling
her of my dreams,
while sipping tea at midnight
with her at the kitchen table.
I can only wash, wipe
and pick up the crumbs.
Fallen leaves cannot open time
or add a few short years
to days never meant to be.
In my repose and cancer days,
grey smoke floats the sky
burnt paper and ashes
that drift my mother away.