By Myrna Stone
Words for My Mother

And when we each had been summoned
and gathered, flesh of your flesh,
at your bedside in that last stark, antiseptic

room, we found in your absence no new
language of argument or touch to wrest
or rouse you. Detained in the heavy traffic

of transit, unmoored from this world
and not yet delivered to another,
you couldn’t know the import we assigned

every detail of your passage: September,
the eleventh day and its eleventh hour,
how the shuttered light from the window

began to build, to put down on your face
its first thin, yellow planks of morning,
or how, in the final moment of your transport,

we longed for what you, too, must have
longed for: some sign, some portent
of perpetuation, and how to believe it.

( 2 )

If I could bring you back again
it would be on a day like this when rain
has washed and washed the air, and wind
is a sort of speech the sky transmits between

each black and barren bough.
And I would bring you in and tell you this
is what I love: this landscape, these rooms
you’ve never seen, the slow seamless hours

of the afternoon unfolding
like weather, disclosing all their vacancies
and varied plenties. And I would offer you
tea in a painted china cup, and cake on a silver

plate, and serve it on linen
from my best gateleg table opened before
the fire. Here, I would say, is my life
and these are the words I’ve written for you.

And if you began to speak to me
of what desire is like on the opposing
plane, of what extreme punishments
or pleasures await even the least of us

I would dissuade you,
I would kiss your cheek and lead you here
to this room, to this chair, this desk
and this window’s suddenly luminescent view.


From The Art of Loss