Paging, Mother

To My Mother Lou Alice – I know it’s hard to go thru the desert—but know that God is holding your hand and I am holding you in my heart. I love you—and ache for you – your daughter No. III Priscilla IV

Inscription on the flyleaf of “Streams in the Desert – Mrs Charles Cowman
Ever since you announced it
quietly and so matter of fact
my words failed, unspoken.
We'd always talked openly, often
even as a teen, withdrawn and moody
with tears and tantrums too.
I still treasure them all.
Your faith though was a small
but silent barrier. I never could cross
to make that leap, so incongruous.
And so, with this book, I'm trying
to speak a language for the dying
to help break bonds of blood 
to say "adios ~ go with God"

ii
Good things come in threes
and you dear daughter are one of these.
Truly divine, this gifted book, felicitous
both title and theme. Death is a wilderness
alien, unknown, and one we all traverse 
alone.  Days, though, are fast trotting past
sore as a camel ride, a seasick sojourn
on that desert ship. And when
comes time to dismount, to cross the plain
I'll go how only the wind can take me
(am praying for a spirit guide to show me)
Just now I treasure every moment we
have left to be.

iii
Till now I've put off ditching her belongings
for years the attic room gave space enough to store 
dispensing with the need to closely sort and pare
the owner's wheat from tares. How readily
these parables became my daily usage
with fragile faith I've kept reliquaries
enshrined some valuables amongst the knickknacks
letter piles besides those bygone books. 
Slight foxing now appears throughout their pages
here's my inscription, still legible in ink.
I've not written anything since 
but still we speak- in whispered messages.

For my MTB: Critique and Craft prompt: “On the Flyleaf” we are to pick ONE from a given list of actual book inscriptions, as theme for this poem. An additional option is to compose it with different voices.

20 thoughts on “Paging, Mother

  1. Your poem reminded me of Carol Ann Duffy’s work, Laura, and I love how you took the inscription and created two different complete characters, as well as a story. I was tempted by this one, but it made me think of the film The Adventures of Priscilla, Queen of the Desert. My favourite lines:
    ‘…Days, though, are fast trotting past
    sore as a camel ride, a seasick sojourn
    on that desert ship…’
    and
    ‘Slight foxing now appears throughout their pages
    here’s my inscription, still legible in ink.
    I’ve not written anything to you since
    but still we speak- in whispered messages.’

  2. This is so moving, Laura. I like the conversation between the two–yes, the journey–and how you brought it back to the inscription at the end. That last line is perfect!

  3. This is beautifully moving and heart felt Laura. I admire the perspective of 2 voices, as if in conversations, face to face. Each stanza is very striking but the one that touched me is the second part. A gem to read tonight.

  4. I sense the genuine affection between mother and daughter; a wonderful gift from life. I appreciate their gentle acceptance of the inevitable. Beautiful extension blossoming from the inscription.

  5. Grief and time’s passage notwithstanding, the conversation continues though death has parted them. An evocative write, where the pain is raw and faith struggles but endures.

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