sunday poems

October 16, 2011 § Leave a comment

I’ve just stumbled across this pair of poems by Meghan O’Rourke on this website. I love the simplicity of the language and the rhythms of them. Well worth a read, if a bit on the sad side.

My Mother

Grew up the oldest of six in the nineteen sixties.
Left home at seventeen in the company of a reprobate,
my father, twenty-three, whose wavy hair
was soon to grow long. Channeling his inner Irish aristocrat,
he called himself the Prince of Breiffni.
Irish too, black-eyed, she wore bell-bottoms
and halter-tops, knee-high boots and a faux-leopard-spotted coat;
she liked to bake, to smoke pot, to read Gogol,
was quiet until she was not, rolling her eyes at
a pun, a pretension, always happy to see her friends;
wearing brown saddle shoes and a merit pin on her chest
until the day she was kicked out of school.
Favorite color, blue. Preferred practice to theory.
Even when she was weary, even after the chemo,
she liked horses and swimming, eating bread with jam,
driving too fast in her leased BMW,
making pies and quilts, always rejecting guilt, licking juice from her lips.
O come down from your weeping cherry,
Mother, and look at how we have scattered
your ashes only in our minds, unable
to let you leave the house—.

Seven Months Later

I don’t feel you in the air.
Maybe you grew tired of the earth, maybe
the dead do. Summer tomatoes and leaves
green with sun don’t matter to the eternal—?
But I am still here,
walking among the shy midsummer trees,
drinking tea.
I go through doors and into cars,
hair wet, a mustard stain on my sleeve.
But you are like a weeping cherry—
the sun nourishes you. No; not even the sun.
Do you need anything?

At night I sleep poorly. When I dream
of your face, the papery cotton sheets
go cool as your hand used to be.
Downstairs, you are there, in the box
I will not look at.
The world is askew without you,
like a lock jimmied by a thief.
When together now, four of us, not five,
we eat quickly, nibbling the corn to the husk.
Even the dogs have gotten quiet
in your absence. The other morning,
I sat in your chair reading.
Next door the mower started up.
I startled at the noise.
Nothing should be growing.

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