I was yours, Mother.
Friday sundowns you lit the Sabbath candles,
chanted the prayers with covered head,
cupped fingers beseeching the flame
while I gazed speechless
aching with the sudden beauty that lit the kitchen
to a temple.
Bungalow summers, blackberry picking days,
nights when I lay my head in your lap
feeling your heart beat, your blood flow,
as you sang with the women Yiddish songs
of struggle and yearning.
I’m older now than you would ever be;
sickness stopped your May Day marches
stilled your voice,
stilled your mind.
Sleep now, bride, in the final bed.
Now you are one with your dreams,
perfect, your cells in cosmic silence,
clear and light, an open channel
for the simple forms of nature to pass through
and claim you as their own.
My daughter sings your songs,
keeps the funny dolls you made
with shaky button eyes,
and I, I keep a rain-cap,
travel-kit, gifts you gave,
good for one on a journey.
I journeyed to your grave again
sat in the quiet of earth and stones
saw a sparrow land
where you lie as if flying
from the blossom trees of Brooklyn.