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.