Sunday, May 10, 2020



It’s raining
like Good Friday
or so we believed
when we were kids
that somehow the
weather reflected
our Catholic faith
& honored the death
of the Son of God
with rain or at leas
 clouds and greyness
and this the day my
mother died 12 years
ago when I was 23
& thought myself too
old to feel too alone
with the passing of
someone I rarely saw
and was afraid to let
know me too well but
felt amazingly intimate
with nonetheless because
she was a woman and I
loved women and knew
that between her thighs
out of the place I loved
most to be I had once
been for the first time
going the other direction
out into the world she
seemed so able to maintain
her innocence in, even
after seven kids, an
alcoholic husband, all
the deaths big families
live through and even
the crazy betrayals of
her standards and beliefs
by her baby who didn’t
come around much anymore
but was there by her side
when the struggle with
whatever came to take her
began and she called out
for her oldest the priest
and for her baby who rose
to take her hand and let
her see he was there but
her eyes showed fear and
anger and confusion at what
I was sure she took to be
a stranger because of the
beard that was just another
sign of my estrangement
from these people who had
once thought I would be
some kind of answer to
the questions that the
future perplexed them with
constantly these days
only instead I grew away
from them, and on my returns
always disturbed them with
my latest alteration in
my movement toward knowing
what I might be as well as
what I had been and them
and when the nurse came in
to turn off the machines
and their ominous low hum
that graphically displayed
my mother’s loss to whatever
it was that had frightened
her so, I felt so fucking bad
for adding to that loss with
my stupid disguise that when
we got home, 3AM on Mother’s
Day 1966 to tell our father
the news I left my brothers
and sisters and in-laws to
shave off the mask to discover
the skin beneath the months’
old growth of hair as tender
as a baby’s, my chin my
cheeks the skin around my
lips all soft and white and
delicate like a lady’s, a
side I was yet to discover
for myself all I knew then
was I would never let that
disguise hide me from the
world I had yet to realize
I understood more from her
sure knowledge passed on to
the child I had been than all
the books and experiences and
hip friends I had gone to since
but when I came downstairs they
all thought I had done it for
him and were grateful I had
been thoughtful of those left
behind especially he who had
taught us most of what we knew
about life it seemed to them
though without her he might
have been the narrowminded
crank he sometimes was although
he too knew how to use his
emotions to understand and that
must have been what brought them
together or perhaps what kept
them there but even in death
the nature of their relationship
took on the security of her care
as the oldest sister read the
note found in the hospital
drawer with her personal stuff
letting us know she knew what
we had only half suspected that
this was it and we’d be left
without the spiritual wisdom
she had offered unwittingly as
she spoke to us once again when
my sister read where daddy’s
medicine could be found and what
dosages he should take and where
she’d left the newly cleaned
shorts and shirts and how he
liked his meals and when and
who should remember to take
their insulin and who among
all these children who were so
long since grown and running
homes of their own but still
so near and dependent on her
she understood in the guts that
were half gone and caused the
heart to close down she knew
they needed to know she’d
never be gone for good but
was only giving advice from
another home the one she had
convinced them could be theirs
because it had always been hers
and now she was there waiting
once again for her babies to
bring their confusion and fear
and strangeness in a world so
far removed from what their
world had given them she was
that world more than any son
of god could ever have been
but she left them to him anyway
despite the reality I saw in
her eyes when whatever it was
came to take her from inside
it wasn’t any meek and loving
lord unless she took him for
some fearsome stranger too as
she had me and I had her for
all the years I never knew how
much I owed her just for never
giving in but always giving . . .


(C) Michael Lally 1982 and 2018

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