Begrudge Not The Touch - Poem by Linda Burns
When I was no longer really young
but still self-centered
My mother would ask me to massage her back.
I would consent
only because I didn’t know how to refuse.
It provided me
none of the pleasure it seemed to give her.
I must admit, I didn’t comprehend
why it seemed to please her so greatly.
Her back was pale and soft
and she appeared a little embarrassed
to ask me to touch it.
Her faded, green eyes would plead
in a way that made me uncomfortable.
I truly did not identify with her need.
She is gone now
and looking back I see how uncomplicated it was.
She was elderly. Her back hurt.
She was alone. No one touched her.
How devastatingly sad.
How blind I was.
Tears of regret sting my eyes as I look back.
I would massage longer and more often
I would hold her hand
and walk with my arm around her shoulder.
Too late……too late.
I am aging and while I am not yet alone,
I see so clearly now
How she must have felt in this time
when all whom she loved
Were so often out of her reach.
I hope she didn’t feel that my failing was a fault of hers.
I wonder how my own children will respond
when it comes my time in life
to ask for the comforting touch of a loved one.
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