Christmas 1999


She felt like a great, exotic, dry leaf in my arms.
I carried her up our steep back steps on the last Christmas day of her life.
Homesick again, sleet in my bones, my mother’s been dead for twenty two years.
I savor her life, but I don’t feel safe, until
she sets the softest trap to find me
in a place inside me I’d forgotten was still there,
a place where the past is never over and the future never runs out.
I see her, but I cannot reach her. I hurry slowly
to catch up with her smile
down in the warmest ring of my heart
where I open out onto the sky.

And there I feel her all around me in the night, her fathomless,
intimate cool hand on my brow, her smile
an epiphany of kind overlooking,
of vast forgiving beyond any ending.
Sipping champaign, kissing dark chocolates,
a Cheshire moon in winter skies, she hands me one
nylon stocking
drooping with candies, toy soldiers,
dreams of all kinds and surprises,
and welcomes me into her boudoir of stars, no brighter
than her eyes, an accomplice again
in homely joys, comfortably far and wise.

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