Mother, you used to say that old was
just going on, no special feeling,
except of surprise.
You said that dead was
a great conversation continued.
With the stars? I wondered.
With the living? With dreamers taken up
in sex or death?
Mother, the last time I saw you was last night
though you have been dead thirty years.
Like fire in a paper, your face flamed,
each line and hair, both lips and hands
coveted in their sweet perfection.
Your only fault: you didn’t stay
long enough. I want to talk with you.
With luck, your hands would pet my hair
that can never be touched enough.
With time, I could have smelled your smell,
yellow perfume, the dry flower of makeup.
Instead, after a glimpse of you, I was
like a child on the green grass
in the sputter of tulips, the parent departing
in the big black car.
I cry after it: Come back.
Take me with you. Me go along.
Me go on alone.
Much later when I am seventy,
your age when you died, old mother,