Going On Alone In The Great Conversation
Mother, you used to say that old was
by Margaret Hasse
just going on, no special feeling,
except of surprise.
You said that dead was
a great conversation continued.
With the stars? I wondered.
With the living? With dreamers taken up
in sex or death?
Mother, the last time I saw you was last night
though you have been dead thirty years.
Like fire in a paper, your face flamed,
each line and hair, both lips and hands
coveted in their sweet perfection.
Your only fault: you didn’t stay
long enough. I want to talk with you.
With luck, your hands would pet my hair
that can never be touched enough.
With time, I could have smelled your smell,
yellow perfume, the dry flower of makeup.
Instead, after a glimpse of you, I was
like a child on the green grass
in the sputter of tulips, the parent departing
in the big black car.
I cry after it: Come back.
Take me with you. Me go along.
Me go on alone.
Much later when I am seventy,
your age when you died, old mother,
I’ll be your twin widow in the mirror.
We will both be wearing lavender,
absurd Easter hats and smiles because
we’ve faith in what’s new and what is given.
Because we loved reading out loud,
the words, each one a new penny dropped in a jar.
Because we have kneeled at each other’s sick beds
and you passed on the little secret notes
and gene codes, these bow legs from you,
these valentine eyes, this sentimental breathing.
Because we are each a word
in a great conversation,
and the word is good.