Wednesday, May 20, 2009
mother of us all
Paul's mother's death has me thinking about my own mother, who died thirty-three years ago, in 1976; she was fifty six, a year older than I am now. It seems very far away, that death, and yet there are also moments that I can revisit with absolute clarity, though I won't write them here, as somehow it feels wrong to chronicle that wounding hour when we're off to Florida in the morning for this funeral. Every loss does call back every other, as though the deaths of mothers were looped together in a long chain. But then of course it isn't just the deaths that are linked. Three young women I know, all poets, are pregnant with their first children. In the town pond here a pair of swans has been nesting all spring. They were right out in the open, in a pond beside an ancient cemetery and a cluster of 18th century houses,in the very oldest part of town, where there's actually a grave for a man, Lion Gardiner, who was born in the 1580s, which seems astonishing to me. The swans made a kind of half-cone of very black mud, like a volcano, and the female sat inside it, day and night, in sun and in rain, sometimes alert and watchful, sometimes with her neck laid back across her wings, head resting. She sat for six weeks. And then just this week, the nest was empty, and there she was on the water, with six small gray cygnets, little incidents of fluff which point right to the term "swan's down" -- you can see how soft they are. And when we went to the pet store today, to look for some way to get the blooming algae out of the pond, there was a pen where a mottled chestnut-colored rabbit was surrounded by her offspring, baby rabbits of the most elegant gray velvet coats. We wanted to bring all of them home, the mother included. It's spring, the whole world's mothering.