My Mother’s Sounds

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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

filtering through

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.

 

She died,

like her mother before,

like her son will,

like we all, like life.

 

I regret not telling

her of my dreams,

my nightmares,

my future

 

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.

 

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