Twenty-First Century Flint Mary Leonard

A Letter To My Mother

The flowers are white this year—
freesia, lilies—I cannot name
them all but I can name
my hurt. I cannot heal
when each week the wound
opens. I go to see you
but I need to see
without hearing. In sixth grade,
when Sister yelled, I slumped back
to my desk, deaf to the world
and now I must make myself
deaf to you. I must
substitute words. When you say,
I should not be in an institution,
I must hear, I should not be
in the world because this world
is a holding place for dying.
I must not hear blame
and feel guilt. I must say,
I am sorry you are old. Sorry
your body is failing,
but I cannot
go on this trip right now,
I cannot be pulled under.
I must not hear, I took care
of my mother and father and
you must, too.
I must believe
I am taking care of you
and this is what I do to care
and then say these words,
Can you see the three white roses,
the freesia and the flowers
I cannot name? Do you love
the smell, the scent of love
I cannot name and you cannot hear?


October 2002 2River