What held the browning leaf to its stem
so long—a link that lasted a summer’s life time?
How ineluctably sap left the veins,
the spine curled. I hear again my mother’s complaint
on each of her fifteen final years’ visits from me,
I’ve lost a lot of ground this week,
as though ground were the one thing
valuable enough to cling to as the bones clot
and flesh loses mass and skin cells flake
along with the mind’s most basic reminders.
Her friend had called her “a little brown bird.”
She wore the russet color well but never sang.
Intractable, hanging on for nearly
a hundred years into an age that challenged
her understandings, duty was the word
that rallied her, not love, not living. And I,
her green leaf child, grew, and grew away, aching
always, for more than obligation, a need for richness that
offended her. In the cold’s wither she finally let go,
let go of me. Clipped by a biting wind from a naked stem,
she fell to that ground she thought she’d lost.
Where color is spare
Take These Words
God's Act in Acts
Comeback for snowy plover
Dancing in the Cathedral
The Possibilities of Clay
Sonnet for my left hip
The Golden Carp
What I Needed to Do
Mary Considers Her Situation
States of being
The longevity of roots
The Returns of Love
Photos from My Trip
The Songs of Camoapa
The Annunciatory Angel
Psalm for the January Thaw
The chair without distinction
The blue eyeball
Peace on earth
Robin in the Late Afternoon
Catch of the Day
All poems are copyrighted by Luci Shaw.
To be reprinted only by permission of the author.