Heart Happy (cathy_edgett) wrote,
Heart Happy

another poem by Cathy Song -

I think Cathy Song has a beautiful way of finding the gift in death, in what is left behind.




My Mother’s Last Gift



My mother’s last gift

was to slow dying down

until we could catch up.

Had her death been sudden,

we would have mourned an illusion,

a picture we took and framed

and chose to remember.  

We would not have seen

ourselves in the fullness of her light.


Into dementia she slipped,

becoming brighter.

She lost the defenselessness

she maintained in health,

the core of her becoming

more real than the one

that fended off disappointments,

a husband’s unhappy harangue,

the chiming insults of children.


We took it personally,

as if she decided simply

one day not to speak.

She would outlast us,

watching us in silence

while we spent ourselves,

a penny for her thoughts.

There were not enough pennies in the world

to change her mind.

We substituted our thoughts

for hers, speaking for her,

always putting words into her mouth.

However blasphemous the claims,

she did not correct us.


Once the small explosions ignited

there was no stopping the fuse,

the deceptive length of it

the time we needed

to grasp the decline of the body,

the enemy invisible, striking at first

in midsentence, then in midstride,

and retreating to withhold more damage

that by dawn would be apparent.


Propping her from buckling

under the crippling descent,

the pressure of our will

caused more harm that the internal

detonations that left her skin

powdery, so easily bruised.


We wanted her back

in her old form,

the one we counted on

as a receptacle for our scorn,

our stubbornness, our imaginary heroics,

unable to be grateful

for what was transpiring,

what we did not deserve.


Toward the end we would sit,

simply sit, by her side,

asking nothing of her.

She floated transcendent,

out of but not quite the body,

coarse, and determined as the ground.

She became lighter as the body

solidified, purifying herself

in the last days of life on earth.

It was difficult to meet her gaze.

Not fully of this world,

she floated above the body,

taken up with the concentration

such art required.

In her presence we became more real

to ourselves than we had ever been.

As if manifesting her true potential,

she shook herself free of us,

having led us thus far.



-          Cathy Song







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