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I celebrate the maple tree

its late fiery brilliance

crimson leaves

birds who stayed

when others followed

the sun and stars

gray squirrels snuggling

in winter nests

spotted rabbits sleeping

in burrows,

mercurial sky

grass damp recent rains

leaves torn by the wind

scattering earth

dogs  walkers  drivers

dashing down Luster

this bright sun room

where I sit

wrapped in velvet

eating toast and

drinking tea

my dog curled up

next to me

the thick richness

of this day

lifted from the bones

of a dewy night

just beginning

(c) Mary Harrison, 11/22/2012


What mother wants to remember

the death of her child?

One happened in August

when the sun was fierce and

the air stood still.

Grass burned and

lakes dried out, and he

no longer wanted to live.

Another, in February

after a short illness;

an ice storm locked doors,

froze flowers;

bent, broken, they

lay on the ground,

mourners footprints

covered by ice,

the earth unmoving..

Birthdays, Christmas, 4th of July,

other holidays.

It seems every month is a cause

for grief.

And I ask myself,

Is this why I’m here—

to guide and love and cherish,

to watch them die

before they have

a chance to live,

to let them go

before my own life


(c) Mary Harrison, October 30, 2012

for Mother

Mother insists on cooking the traditional meal.
She stuffs the turkey and puts it in the oven,
peels potatoes at the kitchen sink.
A warm mist fills the room,
softens her stiff white apron
and freshens the blooms.

I help with the chopping and the paring,
notice there’s something about her
hallowed eyes,
the quick shallow breathing,
squeaks and sighs when she speaks,
dry skin,
hair that’s spreading thin.

When it’s time to leave, I’m startled
to find in my easy embrace
an old used fragile doll
who could easily come apart. If I hug her too tight
I’m afraid she might fall, along with my heart
and we’d, neither, be able to rise.

But it’s not about cooking or eating,
clearing the table or putting the kitchen to rest;
it’s not talking about the weather
or following what’s familiar.

It’s bone and blood
and leavings.

Even the soft maple growing old.

(c) Mary Harrison, 1994