Friday, February 24, 2012

The Last Time I Saw My Mother

A beautiful confusion of
voices float off the stage.
What marvelous dancers, too.
Phantoms in shocking shades,
gold and red like blood and urine.
How much more beautiful 
is the night than the day
when such gaiety lights the dark
more than the sun can ever do.
the noisy joy on stage
stops dead.
The lights go on, a voice above:
“Technical problems.”
I look around. 

Oh my God!
Sitting next to me
my mother
in a black lacey dress
with matching gloves.
How strange she looks 
without her wig.
With every strand of snowy hair in disarray.
A funny cap precariously ontop.
Her eyes stare straight ahead, 
They frighten me, so still,
completely transfixed,
transformed--once brown like nut
now the color of cloud.
I lean forward into her face.
Does she know me? 
Not one blink.
Dare I tell her? 
I do.
We thought you died! 
I wrote a poem about it.
Shall I show you now?
She stares and stares.

Whose ashes did we lay to rest?

If that’s a dream, this is not.

A month before she fell,
(Who knew her bones were crumbling?)
we sat outside the nursing home
and smoked. 

I won’t live much longer.
Her voice matter of fact.
Oh that's her. A soldier’s grit.
Is how she always met her fate.
I speak again. 
Blank eyes stay blank.
It was a simple funeral.
I wanted to hold her little body
with its missing leg and no teeth, 
and kiss her face, though kissing
was never our style. 
Do it quickly, I coax myself. 
Kiss her now.
Before the music starts again.
Before motherlessness.

Copyright (c) 2012 Ellen McCarthy. All rights reserved.