Poems October 2021
To Dervla Murphy’s mother, in a time of quarantine
An invalid for thirty years,
bookended by piles of pages
you couldn’t turn, concerned with tasks
beyond your reach, like islands
of dust on curtain lace—castaway,
castaway—you got mean.
Who wouldn’t, when the dream where you
can’t move won’t end, when no door
leads outside. What house is built
for that. My mother’s feet
surprise me when I cut her toenails.
She still walks but not that far,
hasn’t traveled much and yet she’ll say,
“Let’s go, I know what walls
look like.” On bumpy roads I push
a stroller built with shocks,
suspension, real wheels we keep inflated.
No All-Terrain Pro
or Revolution Flex 2.0
for you, who pushed your pram
up into the Knockmealdown Mountains
on walks alone with the baby,
the year that would be your last to walk.
It was talked about.
It wasn’t done: a mother taking off
to wildflowers, vistas,
ridges, freshest unbound air.
But you did. And when you died
Dervla rode her bike to India.
She stayed inside with you
so long, until you could wander
again, so far, with her.
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This article originally appeared in The New Criterion, Volume 40 Number 2, on page 33
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