Author's Note: With all our social distancing comes thoughts about all the distances we suffer, of space, time, and of the heart.
In the small circle of yellow light cast by her lamp my mother sat on the worn smooth wooden chair rocking my little brother until sleep came to take him loose-limbed and dreaming from the cradle of her arms. Later, she would fold clothes she had washed that day and hung out in the sun, stacking them, clean and fragrant, neatly in their drawers. That was long ago, when evening unfolded like a paper rose, the vestibule of night, a place to sing and tell stories, a place for whispering in the bed I shared with my sisters, a place for surrender to a measured peace unthreatened by the ordinary world.
Once you were new Like an uncurled leaf With the dew still on it, Innocent of thought, Smooth as a baby, you had Nothing much to say. Now you roam the borders Like an old coyote You know a lot About carrion, And the hard life Of the scavenger Who steals the spoils Of another’s hunt. Your innocence, Worn and yellow As your teeth, Won't get you Anywhere now, But you tell Much better stories Than you used to.
©2020 Mary McCarthy
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