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LJI Week 14: Incantation for My Mother

This is my entry for Week 14 of LJ Idol Friends and Rivals. I chose the topic "Saudade" (defined below, for those who aren't familiar with the term).

Incantation for My Mother

And so with chicory and dandelions I conjure you;
with salt air and pastel chalks. An ozone snap
to bring you back to the garden, to kneel
beside me, pull weeds and tell stories.
Veins on the back of your rice paper hands,
your nimble fingers ringed in rose dust.

The "Polish ridge" above your ruffled brows,
the link, you said, to the Neaderthals.
You, revived, from crooked feet to white locks --
or puffy brown hair and unbent joints. To stare,
eyes wide blue, into the mirror (your makeup face)
or bite your lip in thought. Perhaps
to cycle with me once more the gentle hills
lined with gold fields, or to sink
onto the sand at sunrise, each painting
in our way.

                              I want to do right
by you, by my siblings. I want the gentle squeeze
holding your arm to walk -- or you to hold mine.
I let you call me Allie. I want to be
as strong as you, to loop my words
like your gorgeous hand writing. But I
am shaken, and trembling. You leaned
on me when your mother died. My heart
still breaks for you. We slept restlessly,
talked at dawn.                I write this
at your grandson's hip-hop class. He whips
and nae-naes, and in his journal
he won't write about being sick,
or missing you. He knows the power of words
to cement ideas and make them true.

(begin again)

According to the Wikipedia entry on the term Saudade, "It describes a deep emotional state of nostalgic or profound melancholic longing for an absent something or someone that one loves. Moreover, it often carries a repressed knowledge that the object of longing might never return. A stronger form of saudade might be felt towards people and things whose whereabouts are unknown, such as a lost lover, or a family member who has gone missing, moved away, separated, or died."



( 16 comments — Leave a comment )
Mar. 17th, 2016 04:31 pm (UTC)
I really enjoyed the visuals in the first stanza. And was moved by the magical thinking in the third. Your parenthetical line is brilliant and evokes so much with just two words. Yes.
Mar. 17th, 2016 04:35 pm (UTC)
Thanks! Glad you picked up on that. I was hoping it could be read as both a message to the self to move on from grief, and a message to the reader to jump back to the beginning of the poem.

My mind has been circling through various pathways of late, some productive and some less so. I am remembering happy moments now, but they always lead to self-doubt, questioning and an intense feeling of loss.
Mar. 17th, 2016 04:57 pm (UTC)
Yes. This is saudade. But it is also a superb piece of poetry.
Thank you for making my morning, today, full of feeling and rebirth.
Mar. 17th, 2016 05:01 pm (UTC)
Oh, that is wonderful to hear! May the rest of your day be similarly blessed.
Mar. 17th, 2016 07:29 pm (UTC)
This was so evocative, and the feeling of loss is so strong. I loved "Veins on the back of your rice paper hands" - it was perfectly descriptive.
Mar. 18th, 2016 12:43 am (UTC)
Thanks. I was always fascinated by the veins on the back of her hands, because they stuck up through her delicate skin. When I was younger, I used to like to press on them. As an artist, her hands were her way of communicating to the world.
Mar. 17th, 2016 10:33 pm (UTC)
This really did evoke some visuals of your mother and your relationship with her; very sweet! Good poem!
Mar. 18th, 2016 12:40 am (UTC)
Thank you! I did a lot of free writing and then chose to focus on just the portions that really felt like they characterized her best.
Mar. 17th, 2016 11:48 pm (UTC)
When we lose someone, it's the ordinary things we wish we could share with them again-- time spent together, talking, being.

That simplicity makes the longing all the more poignant. Those things will still happen, but not with the person who made them matter so much, and the difference is so vast.

I hope the next few weeks go well, especially given how the anticipation is weighing on you right now.

Mar. 18th, 2016 12:39 am (UTC)
Thank you. It helps that my family is as close as ever, and that my sister's family will be helping me this week. We are cementing plans for what to do with her effects and her property; now it will just be a matter of sorting. But I know I will see her everywhere.
Mar. 18th, 2016 03:33 am (UTC)
This is gorgeous. It makes me think of my mom, of shared experiences and her losses and how can I do better. I feel like I fumbled through supporting both of my parents through their own parental losses (each lost their father last, after I was a functioning adult), but that's all over now and all I can do is do my best. This really brought out the good kind of thinking things through for me. Thank you.
Mar. 18th, 2016 01:43 pm (UTC)
I really love those last few lines. And my dad called me Allie :)
Mar. 18th, 2016 03:32 pm (UTC)
I really love that first stanza.

And I totally got the ambiguity of the parenthetical. :)
Mar. 18th, 2016 06:44 pm (UTC)
This is beautifully written.
Mar. 19th, 2016 09:53 pm (UTC)
Mar. 20th, 2016 02:33 pm (UTC)
I love this! I just love the idea of bringing a loved one back to share a few familiar moments again. To begin again.

This is so beautiful in every respect. Beautiful.
( 16 comments — Leave a comment )

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