Sunday, June 28, 2009

An Eastern Shore poem

Mom Mom

She keeps her hands in her lap at rest,
Fingers bundles of broken twigs,
Brown and knotted, scarred,
Big-knuckled from long hours with the knife
Worrying the sweet meat
From horny red shells that cut to the quick.
If she didn’t have all those years
What would there be
Beyond the work?

Her dress is clean,
Faded at shoulder, thigh and breast
Patches over patches
Covered with the soft apron
Of dim rose print.

Her hair is pulled back each morning
Anchored against the wind,
The constant wind.
Fine lines fan out from
Eyes once as blue as bay and sky,
Now faded into ancient haze.

She was always there
In the house beside the water
Where the fiddler crabs
Clattered their shells
At break of day,
Annoyed at her steps
As she tended the goat,
The chickens, the pig.

She doesn’t need much.
The neighbors look in
And see her hands in her lap
The fingers knotted like salt-hardened lines.
She smiles, says she is fine.
And they leave, shaking their heads
At her presence at all.

Her voice is now an echo
Of the persisting wind
As she whispers her prayers
Over sourdough batter
Started years before and
Stirred with a tarnished spoon.

Her children stay on
In faded portraits ranked
By size and age on the mantle shelf
Where the flu is cold
In the summer damp.
They rarely call.

Her man was heavy of hand,
His shoulders as broad as a tree.
She loved him true when they were young,
But he laid him down to sleep
One night, and did not breathe
In morning’s light.

There was a time she waited
On the bridge near the water’s edge,
For the sight of a well known sail;
And now for the Maker’s call.
There’s nothing more,
Her world has passed
And soon will fade to memories
In a book that once fell into the water
So that the ink ran
And the tales were lost.

Keep on the sunny side folks, Terry

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