I have a lamp from my mother’s house
The house that is no longer hers, nor mine,
the trailer, the apartment, the hospice bed.
Teresa sent a box of photos with the lamp.
Stern, hard people who look a lot like me,
sharp nosed, straight spined, stand frozen,
the way perseverance stands, unblinking.
We spoke the morning my mother died, vanity
says she knew who I was, but she didn’t.
I barely knew her. It had been fifteen years
of short phone calls and occasional envelopes
containing daddy’s doctor’s statements, his spells,
heart attacks, scraped across the page
in her perfect penmanship, "This is all your fault!"
It wasn’t, I never thought it had been, not then,
not now. I keep all these things to remind me
to be kind, to be careful, to pay attention.
Last Valentine’s Day my sister sent a card.
It was expensive, embossed, heavy.
Inside the gold envelope she included
my parent’s death certificates, not copies.
The card read: “Love, Teresa, Mike, Sean,
and Jess. I thought you should have these.”
Apples fall, even if no one is there to hear.