We were like slowly awakening pears,
lasting into winter, desert pears,
dry and ripening slowly.
During those last 3 years,
I learned to talk to you gently, you learned to listen,
to ask me about my poetry.
I think of you when there’s thunder out there,
but it still doesn’t rain.
The night it did rain, and the power went out,
we sat on your bed in the dark, talking of our childhoods,
46 years apart, how thunder
used to scare you, how daddy and you
would make love until the storm passed.
The other night, I bought fish and knew what I wanted:
you would have been proud of me, buying the way you used to buy,
asking questions, talking with the fish man–
I’m past 50, finally self-assured.
Think how much you could have taught me,
if you could have slowed us down with a kiss,
in the kitchen, in the store saying,
this is a strong fish, this one bakes or broils well . . .
Yesterday I put on the T-shirt that young Hillary
made for you with your name in bead letters;
I wanted to wear what had been yours next to my skin,
wear your name next to me all day.
Schooled in pain, but born to laugh at the same time,
I have a part of your smile,
and know how to do small stitches.
Having found you and lost you—
other deaths may be easier.
I keep your will, your leather wallet,
your bowl with the fine crack in it, your favorite knife.
The disappointments I wanted you to forget,
may they have been burned to condensed ashes, like many of your bones;
a year ago in snow, we sent you down the stream.
May what I should have said follow you,
may it knit you back together in transparency,
may the light shine through you,
may we go our separate ways in peace,
may we pass in deep silence, Mother.
Mary McGinnis, blind since birth, has been writing and living in New Mexico since 1972 where life has connected her with emptiness, desert, and mountains. Published in over 70 magazines and anthologies, she has also been nominated for a Pushcart Prize. She has published three full-length collections: Listening for Cactus (1996), October Again (2008), See with Your Whole Body (2016), and a chapbook, Breath of Willow, published by Lummox poetry contest (2017). Mary frequently takes part in poetry readings in Santa Fe and Albuquerque, New Mexico and is available upon request for readings and poetry workshops.