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This motherless child

M. E. Csamer
From:   Light is what we live in. Artful Codger Press, 2005.

Before she was dead,
in the time we were going back and forth
Picton, Toronto, Picton, Toronto –
hope, no hope, hope, no hope.

For a break from the waiting (a blessing, a knife)
we walked the streets of Picton
late summer afternoons, through chestnut shade
by century houses whose blinded windows shadowed
the ghosts of old ladies walking their pasts. I walked
her childhood, her passing, her past.

Then hours, by her bed for hours, oddly content,
needlework for the hands, a rhythm of making,
(death busy unmaking) in stasis, time between time,
the delicate stitches – over and under and over and bright
yellow floss by the window, blue window, draws golden
with evening, come the nurses to turn her, so small
in the whiteness of sheets.

Wait. Wait and I'll weave us a blanket,
a blanket of colours, a crazy quilt of all that we were
and are and never could express and bled into silence
through which she is moving away, away. Wait.

Here is the phone and a dozen quarters, a list of numbers.
“Hi, it's me.” It's me, it's me, and you all know
my voice, were all lifting receivers, all punching
my number. What is this silence we cover and cover,
all running for cover. What is this silence?

I am calling, at last, I am calling. No excuses, no waiting.
Got to hear every voice ever said it loved me; call
without apology at four a.m., five. “Sorry, I'm sorry,
the birthday, her growing, the letters, your dying.”
As if forgiveness was hard, to give or receive;
we thought it was so we waited. We waited
till the very end, then the very end released us.

I was giving and asking and she couldn't speak
but her presence was a kind of forgiveness, how the stroke
didn't take her off at once, how she lasted (not lingered, lasted),
that we had those days with me by the window, talking or singing,
telling her the weather, the news, while my hands at their work
moved the way women's hands are always moving, hers reaching
up, up as if out of water, as if for something only she can see
or needs to grasp and no one can help her not me,
not even me, not even her daughter,
this motherless child.

M.E. Csamer's works copyright © to the author.

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