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Poem #19: Happy Mother’s Day

This is for your mother, Kathleen. Even after I stopped loving you, I couldn’t move her from my heart. This poem was written when my relationship with words was rawer, but the sentiment is still there. May she sleep in peace on this crisp Mother’s Day. The world has been a colder place without her.

Elegy for Your Mother

You were catatonic, wouldn’t speak 
until I made you collapse 
into waterfalls. I didn’t realize 
you knew how to cry. 

Your father tried, but was useless. 
Don’t blame him. His heart was mangled
like it’d been in the passenger seat.

Your aunt and I made misery meals 
that feed the woeful, tantalizing broken 
souls who refuse to eat out of respect 
for the dead.

I called the funeral parlor and talked 
to a man whose oily voice greased 
the handset. The forced sympathy 
of funeral directors rang insincere 
in weary ears as it echoed: 
“We’re sorry for your loss.”

You were lovely during the funeral,
wearing the last suit she ever bought you,
magnificent midnight black. You’d forgotten
how to cry all over again. I squeezed 
your hand, knowing you’ve never liked human 
contact, but you held on, wary to let me leave.

There was a bonfire that night, as though we
were Vikings sending her soul off to sea.
Your friends made you climb high to the roof 
to play guitars, to mourn that proper way.
When your father joined, the world got 
quiet. He played Ain’t No Sunshine to the moon. 


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