The Sky Over My Mother’s House

The Sky Over My Mother’s House

It is a July night
scented with gardenias.
The moon and stars shine
hiding the essence of the night.
As darkness fell
— with its deepening onyx shadows
and the golden brilliance of the stars—
my mother put the garden, her house, the kitchen, in order.
Now, as she sleeps,
I walk in her garden
immersed in the solitude of the moment.
I have forgotten the names
of many trees and flowers
and there used to be more pines
where orange trees flower now.
Tonight I think of all the skies 
I have pondered and once loved.
Tonight the shadows around
the house are kind.
The sky is a camera obscura 
projecting blurred images.
In my mother’s house
the twinkling stars 
pierce me with nostalgia,
and each thread in the net that surrounds this world
is a wound that will not heal.

Jaime Manrique, translated by Edith Grossman

Second Sunday in Advent

I first saw this poem in the days before I left Twitter, Facebook and Instagram for mental health reasons. I loved the slow movement of its grief in declarative sentences flowing across naturally paced lines.

I look back at that time: I had my own demons to wrestle with. I clocked it as a ‘poem for later’. Well, now ‘later’ has arrived, and I am in the thick of it, ‘immersed in the solitude of the moment’ and ‘pierce[d] … with nostalgia’ for a time that cannot be brought back.

I will her back, but she does not come. I see her most clearly when I do no willing at all. And there she is. The leaves collect on the lawn. The kettle boils. The hour-before-people-dark with the dog, just a few ‘twinkling stars’, as in her nursery rhymes.

3 Comments

  1. Such a poignant poem….it strikes a real chord as I near a year of my own mother’s passing and I spend a lot of time at night looking for her in the stars. Thank you Anthony for sharing and I hope that your grief lessens with each night sky.

    Liked by 1 person

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