Your departure is marked by smoke,
a grayish-white plume lifting to simple blue sky.
Nothing magical here, you might tell me,
that is, if you had a voice I could actually hear.
Your remains have been scratched into dirt,
and the X that marks your spot
is a miniature rosebush
guaranteed to bloom this summer.
In that garden a bronze plaque names you;
you are bracketed by those two dates,
February 17, 1925,
December 6, 2001:
beginning and end.
What rises in my throat and eyes
when I pause to remember
is that long stretch of you in between:
shy girl, sad wife,
woman bent down by time,
by a disease that erased you,
line by line, year after year,
until all that remained at the end
was the faint impression of a pencil sketch
on a vast white page,
no color, no shape,
but the intimation of a life
I try so hard to remember.
Eight years, one month, eighteen days
That was the last time I saw my mom. When I think of her now I remember most her strength, compassion, modesty, and musical talent. Most of my life I’ve been told how much I look like her, and I see it, too: eyes set deep into my skull, pale skin, fine hair, wobbly knees. If only I had half of her courage, grace, and faith.
She came to me in a dream once not long after she died. I was lying awake in bed, and felt someone sit down next to me. I realized it was her, and she embraced me, told me that she loved me. When I woke up I cried, wishing it had been real. Sometimes I think it was.