Wednesday, September 7, 2016

A Quiet Nature with Various Charms

"What's the point of living if we don't
Die at the end of it?" My mother
Insisted that death was a portal,

A one-shot either/or if/then gate,
Sort into heaven or into hell,
No more decisions ever again,

Happiness/suffering forever
And ever and ever and ever.
In her evangelical high school

Yearbook, there's a black-&-white picture
Of her, rich chestnut hair looking black,
Poor dentition touched-up to look white,

1945, world's end somewhere,
Beginning of adulthood for her,
"Quiet nature with various charms."

It's painful to look at. I feel like
The parent, aching to find some way
To protect and defend this poor child.

She found her own way, and then she died,
Sixty-six years on, officially.
But that sweet, anxious smile and the cruel

Pseudo-compliment of the yearbook
Editors trying to find something
Nice to say about the quiet girl

From the backwoods Massachusetts farm,
Raised dirt poor by her widowed mother
And nine older brothers and sisters.

She was at least as skeptical as
Me, but behind that smile she kept hid
A fierce need to cling to her mother's

Faith, however easily she fled
Her mother's rocky scrap of pasture.
What's the point of dying if we don't?

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