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Christopher and His Mother

“Dressed in stolen clothes she stands
cast iron and frail
With her impossibly gentle hands
And her blood-red fingernails.”
– – Joni Mitchell, “Shades of Scarlet Conquering”

“Penelope…
fell to weeping…
till watchful Athena sealed her eyes with welcome sleep.”
– – Homer, book 19, The Odyssey

What year might it have been? Or was
it many years, each layering each,
restive strata of birth and life
in retreat. Colonial red-bricked,
her husband (at Oberlin, lovers)
on the 7:10, golf at 5:00.

 And you, those summers, gentle boy
of eight when first she caught your notice
and held it, sharpened hook: blue eyes
all wit, Bacall wink, fading with
the fading hours – soft rose storm clouds,
evening electric with mood and drink.

 Those nights set you reeling: her fingers laced
to freshened glass, filigree of tears,
forgotten rage took form upon
her discontented Danish face.
“But beautiful,” you recalled. Mahler
in stereo. A boy. His mother.

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