Crossing the field behind our house,
I shouted for her to hurry up, and used
a new word I’d learned from my friends.
That was when she clobbered me.
I couldn’t believe it. The anger
in her face that I had never seen.
Another memory: lying in bed beside her
as she sang me to sleep, the pure warmth
and pleasure of being there, the closeness.
Once when we were camping she got up
in the night and chased the bear away
with a broom. Tooth marks on the cookie tin.
She taught me to say my prayers, first
the Our Father, then the Hail Mary, then
the Glory Be. How could it be otherwise?
When she talked of being young herself
I did not believe her. The photographs
spoke of something else, of a child
I did not know. My mother
was like the sky. I did not believe
she would die.