The Anniversary

When my mom died 30 years ago today, she left behind many pieces of unfinished art. Though not enough. I wish there were more. Much of her art was in the hands of others, and I have only my memory of them. She made things before the days of Instagram and camera phones.

When she died, I couldn’t imagine the future without her. If you’ve lost someone, you know what I mean. You can understand the facts, but they make no sense when you want to pick up the phone and hear that person’s voice.

Or perhaps you know this feeling. You’re walking through your life, minding your own business more or less, doing your usual things, and in an instant (possibly phone call or a person walking into the room to tell you something) the world you were in gone. Just like that. Shocked and confused, you are somewhere else. The furniture remains in place, the things are right where they were, yet nothing is the same. Not the earth beneath your feet nor the sun in the sky.

I guess we adjust. After all, we can’t go back.

We’re often taught to work hard, make the change we want to see, go for it, try harder, don’t give up. You know, the idea that if we want something, all we have to do is work for it. But you can’t work hard enough to go back to that other world.

Sometimes I think pieces of the world I used to live in are here, like in the art, the memories, and the way I laugh–glimpses and echoes. There are people who prefer to box these things up and put them away. Understandable really. Why wouldn’t you do that?

But I decorate with them like fairy lights. Here’s the art, the coffee cup, the note. Oh how they shine.

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Thank you for reading.

4 thoughts on “The Anniversary

  1. He Tells Me I Cannot Love the Raven
    by Marian Allen 2006

    It’s ugly — ill-disposed — a scavenger —
    haunter of graveyards, heartless, ghastly, grim,
    unlovable, he says, it cannot love
    me back, nor any other living thing.

    He thinks I have some kindly bird in mind —
    a trickster, spirit guide or Gothic prop —
    He says I’m too upbeat to comprehend
    the raven in his heart. This much is true.

    I only know my own: Bitter and bleak,
    oblivious to honor, grand design
    or noble sacrifice, he doesn’t soar
    above the carnage life leaves in its wake.

    He perches on a corpse and tears its flesh.
    This eye is dark. This mother’s son is meat.
    “This one,” he caws, “and this one, and, one day,
    ‘this one’ will be you, cold beneath my claws.”

    Violet, Mildred, Kenneth, Hazel, George,
    Ruby — the list gets longer by the year
    of those who’ve left me paralyzed with loss —
    I see them in the glitter of his eye.

    He feeds on mortality. In him, death is life.
    Both are a moving banquet, a great feast
    where death knell rhymes and chimes with dinner bell.
    This is my raven, and I love him well.

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