A PERFECT STILLNESS

You lie there, perfectly still,
the morning breeze slides away
leaving the sun to stare down,
and the birds fall into silence. 

I gently touch the stone, feel
your cheek beneath my finger,
see your face, the college yearbook
photo all that I have of you. 

I speak silently to you, telling
of my sixty-seven years, of your
grandsons and great grandchildren
and I sense your smile, and a tear. 

Your parents are here, your
grandparents, sisters, brothers
and cousins, and I know give
you three generations more. 

It is time for me to go, but these
moments are the most I have
of you, and as I place my small stone
atop yours, I now have a mother.

First Published in Culture & Identity, Vol. 2, The Poet (2022)

READING LIST

A good friend, who we had
not seen in COVID time, visited
and we smiled when we saw
that she was reading Heidi,
catching up she said on a too
abbreviated childhood, one
sacrificed to circumstance

My grandson, soon enough
ten, says he is reading
Beowulf, though not the Heaney
translation, so there are two
more books on my books
you must read before you die list.

Despite reading regularly,
the list grows ever longer,
and I am beginning to think
that if I must  complete it,
it may be my best shot, my
only real shot at immortality.

FINDING PEACE

It wasn’t lost on me, mother, that this year
on the anniversary of death, you had been gone
eighteen years, Chai in your beloved Hebrew,
a lifetime for me, having never met you
save in the half of my genes you implanted
in me when I was implanted in you.

As you aged, alone, did you wonder what
became of the closest family you had after
your parents were interred in the soil of Charleston?
Did you ever regret not knowing, or were you
comfortable that the Jewish Family Service Agency
would make a selection of which you would
have approved had your approval been sought.

You have grandsons and greatgrandchildren
who will mourn me, carry my memory forward,
but know that I do the same for you, and you
never aged a day from that one when the photographer
took your college yearbook photo, a grainy
copy of which is tucked in my wallet and heart.

THOUGHT HARBOR

I harbored the thought
one day becoming a monk,
and not only because saffron robes
would be well within
my usual color choices.
I knew it was a pipe dream,
I love, too deeply, to disavow,
life and I’m sure my past lives
wouldn’t take all that long
to catch up with me, karma
can be a total bitch and
she will never deny it.
I asked my grandson, age four,
if I had sufficient Buddha nature
to consider being a monk.
He laughed, and said I had
enough monkey nature to someday,
just maybe, become a Buddha.

TOOTHLESS BODHISATTVA

He will tell you
that the distance
between a tear
and a laugh
is the span
of a mother’s arm.
He knows the duration
of sadness is identical
to a shnork*.
He cannot understand
how you could
have forgotten all this.
He doesn’t know
why you cannot recall
that enlightenment is
no more than a giggle.

*shnork (n.): the sound a grandfather makes as his nose approaches,  then just touches that of his infant grandson.