Oct 182014
 
Now, when cherry and apple boughs begin
to swing weighted double and triple with blossom
like hard-arced deep-sea lines pulling 
marlin and swordfish and blind leviathan
up hungry from oblivion by mouth and hook,
O mothering, all-consuming sea, I enter the wide 
grove to pace awhile and speak my piece.
Now, when orchard air betrays no too-rich scent
of ripening death, too-ripe life--no loaded orbs
hang glistening all the harvest-moon midnight
as when I sang easy between the bee-busy trees,
too alive to sleep those onward autumns through--
now I remember and honor the hours the days
my Mom's proud ghost walked and prayed.
Now, Mom, when of we two only one
may play a speaking part, I seek you out
in Spring among these oft-deserted aisles
of souls whose sails flag plainly on the wept sea
of massy grasses not yet scotched and cut,
unevenly alive, each green blade its own green height
at Holmdel Cemetery.

                    Now I in the prompt of warmth
walk an evening vigil I cannot choose but chase
so many mourning hours beyond departure.--
Still you stand at the kitchen counter, peeling
glad apples, small russets, pears, lambent carrots,
all picked by your brazen squad of boys in the sun,
washing each, rolling each in careful hands
until their inner shine shows showered in the 
sink-rinse, all laid white on the cutting board
or minced into copper-bottomed vats for quibbling soups.
How many and intricate the apple-hours we tolled!
Your hair its own silver feast of blossom-curls
damp in the happy chatter of meal prep
where boiling things poured pellucid, spouting
through colanders I held unably at any angle,
standing at your elbow, low, listening
to water fillip and drip, tipping the big yellow
bowl, your sharp wit apt as the paring knife 
dancing against your thumb.

                        I never knew you,
the dark-haired darling who danced
in your father's Welsh eyes.  I knew you alarmed
and laboring lion-hearted in a hospital bed,
small hands at the chained triangle
to leverage and lift yourself to some easier breath
that didn't come.  But I knew you best, and know
you still, in a wordless kaleidoscope of worlds
where each small turn changes all, the pattern
resplendently renewed by light, the pattern
of broken chips and needy details, rainbows sawed
to pebbles--as when light through leaves
entertains and blinds, so I see you, Mom:
a hand, a heart, an eye alight.

                            And so I walk,
myself shelving shore without ship or mystery,
swept haphazard among coral shoals of memory,
tunelessly whistling in the ruminative night,
tapping a foreign California apple in my pocket
as I count out time to no song I know,
hum no uplifting lyric to the unnameable tune,
alone at your elbow, just we two, 
and the April moon standing mute.


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