During my daughter’s graduation ceremony
I thought nothing of my mother’s tears
of joy, I presumed.
No, she said, I was remembering
my own, no pomp or relief, only difficulty.
The road ahead loomed.
These kids, these girls, nurtured,
all their families gathered to celebrate,
all colorful, you know…
I imagine her at eighteen, I have a photo
burned in the top left hand corner.
She is striking.
She had me at nineteen. Walking down streets,
my memory is of her fear. Ouch she says,
backing away from a grin.
Her expression is savage. Later on, at home,
standing amidst the rowdy crowd,
her decorative drink warns with its ice cubes.
A shaft of light, passing through screens
above vents that carry voices down
by means of their subterranean tubes,
falls on her abandoned auburn hair.
Let them see. What she is made of.
She always got her way with men.
Storied men, exchanging bits of paper,
men who had travelled far
with their delicate wives
to face her contempt after all these years.
The frozen scene presents the light
as a harbinger of departure.
Let’s be clear at which point we must stop
banging our heads against the wall
of solid rock.