The Grieving Mother
It's winter outside the window,
winter inside the room.
The walls are empty except
for one small painting of the child.
And the mother without her child
stands at the sill.
The floor is bare and cold.
She has labored at the business
of picking up the pieces
death leaves behind.
She has scrubbed the floor
until her hands were raw,
prepared the whole house for guests,
strangers to her heart.
She has worn the plaster mask
of her polite smiles and faux thank yous
until it has worn thin and brittle.
She has made and remade the beds
in his room with precision
for there is nothing else she can do.
Crisp corners folded closed,
white open-weave blankets stretched tight
like muscles, sinew, thoughts reaching.
Through a haze it is clear
there is something more,
something beyond the looming
bare and blackened branches against the snow,
beyond the frosted panes of glass
where the child once played,
where bulbs she and the child planted once bloomed,
something floating in the high ceilings,
trapped in the crevices of the plaster tiles
of fleurs de lis and flourishes,
like a whisp of smoke from a fire
just put out or the mist of an apparition.
There in those tiny spaces is the
child's voice telling stories
between bedtime yawns.
The mother knows they are there:
the spring bulbs,
the vision of the child skipping rope
under the bellies of the trees,
the small voice full of wonder,
but they are hidden, blurry, muffled
memories just outside her grasp,
just outside her grief.
She can't look anymore,
not at the pillow where he slept,
his picture on the wall.
She can only stare at her empty reflection
echoed in the bleak landscape
outside the boy's window.
She can only wait for the spring
and hope those bulbs will bloom again.
Julene Waffle is a NYS public school teacher, a writer, a business owner, a wife, a mother of three boys, two dogs, and three cats, and more fish than she can count. She loves nature and feels at home among the trees. She earned degrees from Hartwick College and Binghamton University. Her work has appeared in several journals such as La Presa, The English Journal; River, Blood, Corn Literary Journal; The Nonconformist, the anthologies of Civilization in Crisis, Seeing Things, and American Writers Review, and a chapbook entitled So I Will Remember.
The Ekphrastic Review
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