Take Heart: A Conversation in Poetry: My Mother's Funeral
Edited and introduced by Wesley McNair, Maine Poet Laureate
In this week’s poem, Ira Sadoff of Waterville departs from a rabbi’s depiction of his mother in her eulogy, describing the mother he actually knew.
My Mother's Funeral by Ira Sadoff
The rabbi doesn't say she was sly and peevish, fragile and voracious, disheveled, voiceless and useless, at the end of her very long rope. He never sat beside her like a statue while radio voices called to her from God. He doesn't say how she mamboed with her broom, staggered, swayed, and sighed afternoons, till we came from school to feel her. She never frightened him, or bent to kiss him, sponged him with a fever, never held his hand, bone-white, bolted doors, and shut the blinds. She never sent roaches in a letter, he never saw her fall down stairs, dead sober. He never watched her sweep and murmur, he never saw spiderwebs she read as signs her life was over, long before her frightened husband left, long before they dropped her in a box, before her children turned shyly from each other, since they never learned to pray. If I must think of her, if I can spare her moment on the earth, I'll say she was one of God's small sculptures, polished to a glaze, one the wind blew off a shelf.
Take Heart: A Conversation in Poetry is produced in collaboration with the Maine Writers & Publishers Alliance. Poem copyright © 1998 by Ira Sadoff. Reprinted from Grazing: Poems, University of Illinois Press, 1998, by permission of Ira Sadoff. Please note that the column is no longer accepting submissions; comments about it may be directed to special consultant to the poet laureate, Gibson Fay-LeBlanc, at email@example.com or 207-228-8263. Take Heart: More Poems from Maine, a brand new anthology collecting the final two and a half years of this column, will be available late this year from Down East Books.