Sestina to my Mother

Sestina to my Mother

We have never dared, until now, to face this time.

We have not had to say, finally, that we could no longer turn

to her during the rest of our lives for consolation,

for laughter, for the scent of those roses at dusk

mixed with the sea, for the evening flush, intimate with talking,

and the warmth of her hand saying, “dearie, I know

exactly how you feel.” We have not had to see this room, know-

ing it contains these same faded rusts, off-whites, time-

worn maples and bittersweet, hearing all of our talking

to each other about her, with her not here. Or we can turn,

considering another flood of faces, to other rooms at dusk

in other houses, all of them a part of us, to seek consolation

in whatever instances of beauty we remember: consolation

in dahlias, apricot, lemon and orange; in paintings, know-

ing that the emeralds or aquas find echoes in her long dress at dusk,

in the Chinese vase, in the quiet room tones, in the time

of her loving. She is with us in a thousand details, turn-

ing in our hearts like rose and thorn. We are talking

to cover our own silences, silences like arctic lands, talking

to somehow share her courage, to make a consolation

of this moment, and to hold each other up, to turn

to that which she held dear in each of us, know-

ing that these qualities glow because she cared, that her time

of nurturing has allowed us to grow, that her dusk

must light our candles. For although this is the dusk

of her long night, we must reach a new dawn talking

to each other with her strength, taking the very pulse and time

of her heart into our new dimensions. We must accept the consolation

that she can mean new leaves to each of our trees, if we know

what nurture we need now. It behooves us to turn

her death into a blessing, to say how thankful we are, to turn

her realm of intense passion for her family, for flowers, for dusk

and light and colors delicate as antennae into our living breath, know-

ing that in this way she may still be ours. We must keep talking

each to each, holding her sense of family inviolate; consolation

for her dying is to touch each other’s hearts beyond hurt and beyond time.

We must turn to each other, touching, using our talking

here as candles in our dusk, as quiet consolation

for the going of the most beloved of ladies in her grace of time.