Mothers

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Below a cloudless blue sky
Which mother shall I now remember?

Eternal nurse or unpaid maid
Full-time cook or part-time teacher

Giving advice, not always sought,
But, usually, wise? Or the stranger

On an alien water-bed
Who, out of reach of God, son, and doctor,

For forty-seven days struggled to die? I silently repeat
The cross-legged wisdom of the priest

And the cupped stream in my palm
Blesses the leaf upon the sand. I shiver

Bare-chested, balancing myself, knee-deep
And place the mud urn upon the clear water -

In the chanting of the lapping ripples
And the patience of the crows, I discover

The suddenness of the final loss-
I shut my eyes and feel the moving river

Moving me beyond the endless flow
I feel the sunlight on my back

And I let my mothers go.

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