For My Mother on What Would Have Been Her 85th Birthday
And silence wedges itself
into the broadening space between us
push to the margins
those routine moments
we made our connections.
That four o’clock time,
that I tried to reach you
in the last four months before you died.
That was the time I could usually count on
when the nurse would usually answer your phone
while she brought you lunch.
Toward the end
when she even had to hold the phone for you
it got so complicated for us
to make our connections.
Not unlike getting those calls
that prompted the frantic negotiations
with the airline’s reservation desk
catching the ride to the airport
passing through security
walking through the x-ray
without setting off the alarms
finding the gate
and squeezing into the seat
too small for anyone who has grown
into complex adult relationships
claiming our baggage
hoping to be met at the curb
and accompanied home
- that place so familiar and open
we sometimes didn’t need to speak
in order to finally grasp that yearned-for feeling
of having arrived.
For so many years we made these connections
look so routine
we didn’t need to think much about it
we thought about it more
and recognized the thoughts given
were less than what was needed
to feed the flickering spark
between two souls standing on the threshold
of an important journey.
And then we would think about it some more.
And it was funny how
just getting the clarity
or the connection
without the old familiar drama
didn’t feel quite as substantial
as we often decided
it needed to be.
Those old familiar years we took for granted
When we compared them to the last few
in which so many delays
and missed connections
pointed out how little time we had
to get our baggage down
to a carry on level
before last call.
How many things we had to sort through
and decide to let go
just to close that suitcase
just to close that distance between us
just to write on the little card
tied to the handle
“It’s four o’clock…
…I love you.”
By David Young
I see her doing something simple, paying bills,
or leafing through a magazine or book,
and wish that I could say, and she could hear,
that now I start to understand her love
for all of us, the fullness of it.
It burns there in the past, beyond my reach,
a modest lamp.