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.




Sorry, This Place is too Small for the Three of Us

CabinI will arise and go now,
For your hearth is cold,
And your cupboards hold nothing for me.

I thought I should have some peace here,
But that is a treasure you’ve buried,
And you’ll show me no map.

Your eyes are all a glimmer.
I caught a glimpse
As you turned from me to her.

The good-bye catches in my throat.
I clear it, then cough,
And embark upon a quest for my coat.

Finding a pen in my pocket,
I think about leaving a note.
Instead, I just leave.

My heels click on the grey pavement
That leads away from your door.
And I revel in the freedom I have found at last.