On the Edge

 

On the Edge

After your mother dies, you will learn to live
on the edge of life, to brace yourself
like she did, one hand on the dashboard,
the other gripping your purse while you drive
through the stop sign, shoulders tense,
eyes clamped shut, waiting for the collision
that doesn’t come. You will learn
to stay up all night knowing she’s gone,
watching the morning open
like an origami swan, the sky
a widening path, a question
you can’t answer. In prison, women
make tattoos from cigarette ash
and shampoo. It’s what they have.
Imagine the fish, gray scales
and black whiskers, growing slowly
up her back, its lips kissing her neck.
Imagine the letters of her daughter’s name
a black chain around her wrist.
What is the distance between this moment
and the last? The last visit and the next?
I want my mother back. I want
to hunt her down like the perfect gift,
the one you search for from store to store
until your feet ache, delirious with her scent.
This is the baggage of your life, a sign
of your faith, this staying awake
past exhaustion, this needle in your throat.

Dorianne Laux

 

I know what’s coming. At the same time, I have no idea at all. It will be terrible, it will be beautiful, it will not be what I expected. It will live with me every day. It is already living in me.

As we say, the memories ‘come flooding back’. Whoever first said this has a lot to answer for. Sometimes they drip drip drip away at me, in the dark, not a flood at all. Other days (nights) it is a torrent.

The sound of her laughter. The smell of onions frying. Her lack of solemnity. That time the car broke down on the way back from school, the steam, the searing heat that day.

The sheer look of joy on her face in this photo, unguarded, not posed. That’s a rare thing to encounter in this life. And I am grateful.

But still I want her back. And it hasn’t really started yet. This is just the beginning.

48 Comments

  1. I am so sorry. Even if it is in advance. You are right about what is coming. Keep your memories fresh, try to remember everything. The more you write down the better for your brain will be overwhelmed. Start writing now, as you are. It helps.

    Liked by 6 people

  2. May God heals your heart 😢 I live everyday praying to leave together with mom at the same time because I don’t know if I can ever live if she leaves first and I don’t know if she will be able to gandle the pain if I leave first …

    Liked by 6 people

  3. My heart hurts for you.
    Laux truly captures the pain of losing a mother.
    Feel it all—the beauty and the terror. It’s how you honor your mother….being fully present. It hurts. It will hurt. Just don’t let the pain shut you down. Embrace it and know that it signifies a deep powerful abiding love.
    Wishing you peace, now and in the times ahead. -Christy

    Liked by 7 people

  4. My mother entered a coma one week after my eighteenth birthday, and died shortly thereafter. I felt as though my world had fallen in on me, that this was the end, this is when I give up. I still fight those feelings every day, but I feel so alone. I want my mother’s guidance, her love, and her joy. I stand at a crossroads in my life and I do not feel as though I have the strength to carry on, not without her. Thank you for this beautiful poem, so very relevant to me.

    Liked by 4 people

  5. Filled with truth for sure. My mom passed almost just over two years ago, a month shy of her 95th birthday. She lived in a nearby nursing home the last few years, she loved it and we were fortunate to find a place that celebrated her. Her favorite social worker passed away last month from COVID19. It hit me hard. But i’m sure they are spending time together. I still have a bag of my mom’s things that i cannot bring myself to go through. But it will happen. Some rainy day when i am ready to be immersed in her.

    Liked by 1 person

  6. I’m deeply sorry for your loss. I must admit that I was amazed to see how you have your channelled you pain into beautiful penning this article. Thanks a lot for sharing this article with us.

    Like

  7. Beautiful picture and a very touchy poem. Golden memories. A salute to all the mothers who take smilingly take pains for their children working night and day without any leave and pay.

    Like

  8. Dear Anthony, I am so sorry for your loss. Grief is like a river, a raging torrent and no footholds and it abates slowly until you can stand, then wade a bit. It takes its own time and will one day be a beautiful river you can sit beside but quietly. Hoping that writing and talking will comfort you.

    Liked by 1 person

  9. I so get this. I think it’s almost harder… grieving a partial loss… I have been through it with a sister and now I swallow unspent tears as I watch my father’s frailty widen, like a tangled net of gossamer thread over his mind and, particularly during Lockdown, his body. The way you descibe how the grief over your mum already started… It paints such a vivid picture. It’s there – a stream that isn’t yet the mighty river it might become. The drip, a torrent in the making.
    I’m rambling (Lockdown hazard) but reading the sort of stuff you write always seems to act as a sort of warfarin injection into the huge word clots in my blocked mind. I so admire your fluency and the simple beauty of your descriptions.
    I hope that your journey through grief will be less sharply painful than the preparation for it and that you will find peace and healing in the writing of it.
    Kate

    Liked by 1 person

  10. That’s a beautiful and touching poem! Thank you for sharing your story and I’m so sorry for your loss. Please continue to live your life. Am sure your mum is there watching and always cheering for you. x

    Liked by 2 people

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