Mother I

Your love was like moonlight
turning harsh things to beauty,
so that little wry souls
reflecting each other obliquely
as in cracked mirrors...
beheld in your luminous spirit
their own reflection,
transfigured as in a shining stream,
and loved you for what they are not.

You are less an image in my mind
than a luster
I see you in gleams
pale as star-light on a gray wall...
evanescent as the reflection of a white swan
shimmering in broken water.

II

(To E. S.)

You inevitable,
Unwieldy with enormous births,
Lying on your back, eyes open, sucking down stars,
Or you kissing and picking over fresh deaths...
Filth... worms... flowers...
Green and succulent pods...
Tremulous gestation
Of dark water germinal with lilies...
All in you from the beginning...
Nothing buried or thrown away...
Only the moon like a white sheet
Spread over the dead you carry.

III

(To H.)

Speeding gull
Passing under a cloud
Caught on his white back
You... drop of crystal rain.
Now you gleam softly triumphant
Folding immensities of light.

IV

(To O. F. T.)

You have always gotten up after blows
And smiled... and shaken off the dust...
Only you could not shake the darkness
From off the bruised brown of your eyes.

V

(To E. A. R.)

Centuries shall not deflect
nor many suns
absorb your stream,
flowing immune and cold
between the banks of snow.
Nor any wind
carry the dust of cities
to your high waters
that arise out of the peaks
and return again into the mountain
and never descend.

Mother by Lola Ridge