Beautiful one of long ago
who knelt with us when the house filled
with a veiled peace useless to resist,
when we knew the smell of your dress
in the folds of sleep, in and out
of consciousness, a blurred coupling
of hands when kissed.
Wherever you are, under tiled roofs
I remember you and I remember loneliness
under the chestnut tree
as we all grew in it’s crooked shadow.
I imagine you old
around the eyes, looking bored,
piling white papers in the kitchen
as if you were there voluntarily.
We all know how it happens.
The earth shatters some of us into tiny pieces
and those who are left go into hiding.
This is how I explain my mother.
I know she tried to hold me,
she meant to play with my children
but she was distracted
and packed that gracious smile, as if love
was the one thing she refused to get caught in
and any old housekeeper could take care of the rest.
Elisabeth Weiss taught poetry in preschools, prisons, and nursing homes and as well as to the intellectually disabled. She now teaches writing at Salem State University. She’s published poems in London’s Poetry Review, Porch, Crazyhorse, Ibbetson Street Magazine, the Birmingham Poetry Review, the Paterson Literary Review, Muddy River Poetry Review and others. She won Talking/Writing Magazine’s 2016 Hybrid Poetry Prize for The Anna Fragments. Her chapbook, The Caretaker’s Lament, was published by Finishing Line Press in 2015.