a few stragglers remain.
a few stragglers remain.
The picture of the two of us,
pulled from my suit-coat pocket,
leans on my dresser.
Square with rounded corners,
faded blue ink–
Kodak May 1980–
printed on the back.
I scanned it for my lock screen, too,
so I can see myself
leaning up against her in the slanted spring light.
The first few days after
Mom taught me how to die
but when I walk outside,
leaves are turning and
afternoons are darker now.
I’m finally looking into the cardboard box
I brought home from my mother’s house late last month;
The clementines she had insisted I take
and perched on top have long since been eaten;
it’s been otherwise untouched
sitting in the corner of the yellow room.
Two pairs of my infant pajamas–
The yellow, corduroy pair with the embroidered lion,
the faded white and green night dress.
She had remarked on the drawstring she had sewn into the bottom–
how it was still there–
the fold-over sleeves to keep me from scratching myself
as I slept in my crib.
My white shoes, too, laces gone,
but still with their impossibly stiff bottom;
my grandmother’s blue-and-white Canton ware,
wrapped in the 1975 Daily News of Bowling Green, Kentucky.
Just before I left,
we had sat on the basement couch flipping through
faded Kodak prints, square with rounded corners,
taken before we moved into the house on the hill.
We paused at one where I wore that night dress,
my sister and I standing
in the deep darkness of an evening east window.
There were others, too, from that forty-years-ago,
and she told me again about each one.
We had such fun, she said,
Standing at their top
in the old house on the hill,
it seemed a long way down
the steepness of the dimly lit stairs.
From below in the kitchen,
you called my spiderman pajamas
I thought to correct you —
but even at nine,
I knew it didn’t matter.
Driving to work this morning,
it was even more remote
from the concerns of this day
or the decades in between.
Yet there we were,
among the forsythia
and apple blossoms
in the brightness of spring.
There’s a much more involved prose piece in here; but for Mother’s Day, this is the essence.
I walked in the woods today
far under scattered clouds —
though it didn’t make me a boy again.
No dog by my side
circling ahead and back,
no sense of wonder at where I might emerge.
Patches of snow from an indecisive December
lay astride the path and filled in hollows.
Straining for the distant sound
of my mother’s voice
calling me in from play,
I heard only birds calling.
Nearly a month from moment to paper, when everything but renunciation seems a struggle.