Wandering an empty aisle,
crowded with items, I pause,
spotting a box with a small bird perched,
its eyes fixed on mine. Metal eyes twinkling.
In an instant, I see her there in her living room
scattered with colored glass birds,
rainbows cascading down the walls.
Will we think of her, mother,
Each and every time we see a bird?
Is it on purpose, do you think?
Hand-picked in her youth?
An assurance that she will never be forgotten?
“She is all the beauty I have ever known,” you say,
my face strained before you.
And I nod, understanding, but say nothing in reply.
Mother, you are mine, not your own,
who fades so quickly, so soundlessly (almost)
with the passing of days and the change
of seasons. You are cold, now. Numb, now.
Worried, as I am, of what’s to come.
Of a lull in laughter.
Of a lack of color in a room.
Now we know, after our many years of wondering:
death comes, not in a flash,
not in a moment of quick tragedy.
Death moves quiet and calculated,
lives multiplied, divided, taken away.
We often try to guess and fall short.
God sets the date.
I feel your fear, overwhelmingly.
Of needing an answer but having no one to ask.
Of finding your childhood home empty.
Of running out of time to say many things.
Of having to fly alone.
But, Mother, you have raised your own eggs.
From infancy, we rose sturdy, to float alongside you.
Birds, earth’s beaked angels, take flight
tracing our footsteps—as she will. A bread crumb here,
another there. Then—nothing.
Nothing but falling feathers,
and off in the distance, the sound of flapping wings.