The Sanctity Of Tears
I was about 11 or 12 then.
She and I were sitting in the living room,
not the den. Maybe that had something
to do with it.
Living rooms back then were for company,
a lavishly draped and bedecked
holy-of-holies which made me,
the rare times I entered,
feel as if I had entered a chapel,
quiet, the scent of polished wood
My mother sat there eating grapes
and I peeled an orange.
Inexplicably, I felt something was about to happen.
In one quick movement
she let the basket of fruit fall to her lap,
placed her hands over her mouth
and began to shake silently and gently.
Something was occuring that had never occurred
and never would again to my knowledge:
My mother was crying.
Drops the size of seed pearls
were falling into the basket of grapes.
It was over in less than a minute.
She picked up the fruit
and went back into the kitchen.
I remained in the sanctuary for a moment
embarassed, disturbed, and suddenly older.
She never told me what had made her so unhappy
that day, and I never asked her.
I sensed that it was something far too
personal ever to talk about.
To this very day,
I often wonder what I witnessed that day,
what holy thing, what immeasurably sad thing.