Singing the Chants

Baby Stella

My mother held on to the past
like she was clutching a baby to her breast,
trying to keep it an infant forever.

The bone china teacups
never broke, never got stained,
never got used.

The pewter dish, shaped liked the sixties
(a wedding gift not to her taste),
never left its box or the house.

Her hope chest, hard to close,
sat as sentinel at the foot of her bed,
perhaps holding all of the hope she ever had.

There was the friend who said something insensitive,
the brother who did not appreciate all she did for him,
the sister who took all my mother thought she had left.

The last time I saw my mother, wasted and woozy,
with four women watching over her—
two of us kin, one bound by love,
and a third, assigned by the hospice agency,
she left the room without her body.
I pray she left behind her baggage, too,
but knowing her as I do,
she likely slipped some resentment
somewhere inside her soul,
the way she hid a twenty
in a change purse, an address book, a pocket of,
well, a pocketbook: black in the winter, white in the summer.

I guess no one taught her that the past has to grow, too.
We need to give it legs, so it can walk away when it’s ready.



6 thoughts on “Singing the Chants

  1. A brilliant write, Cheryl . . . I can hear echoes of the quote from a new writer you included yesterday in the line ‘she left the room without her body’ – such, as you said, a beautifully poetic line . . . The thought of letting the past ‘grow up’ so it can move out and we can move on is rich in its applied imagery; and curiously connected with the poem I’ve been working on today which I’ll post tomorrow . . . Thanks for sharing your gifts!

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Thank you, Peter. I’m so glad you noticed the connection to what I read last night. When I begin to get down on myself for not writing enough, I remind myself that soaking in the words of others is an invaluable part of the process. Today I read this in a magazine (but the writer did not know who to attribute the quote to): “If you want to create something new, you must first love something old.” —so much wisdom in one straightforward line. (If only English majors at Yale would get the message.)

      I can’t wait to see what you’re cooking up!


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