For Mom at 79
You read that at the Garden of One Thousand Buddha’s
we must walk clockwise, our right ears turned
towards the statues, our right ears ready to hear the words
between the space that is sameness, stillness.
You clutch your blue cane, butterflies dance around the
steel periphery and we walk hand in hand, your weight in my
hip like I did with my babies, those natural grooves, that flow.
So very slowly we circle and I feel the false move, the slightest tap,
could knock you down, a heap of only the finest linen,
lips outlined in subtle red, not a smudge, everything just so,
the weight of my task immense as we
shuffle this circle, the still of this valley,
the patterns, intricate and deliberate, molded and holy and you say
you can almost feel it. How it feels to feel. Because, perhaps,
when you’re near the end it’s better to ground in logic and
knowledge, your strong mind dictating the terrain,
because you’ve always done it all by yourself.
Come to this country.
Marry this man.
Raise these children.
Education and education, work and work,
one heavy step after another.
Though today, your legs barely support your frame,
your back bent and broken, a tiny hand shakes,
your face serious and deep,
Sixteen years ago, I never thought you’d still be here.
The morphine dripped and I told you all my secrets,
spoke to your closed eyes,
laughed myself silly, delirious,
those hours spent in that stale room,
striped curtains and flowers,