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.