Mother - A Sestina

by Linda Fuller

My mother’s face is gullies etched in clay.
Her once lush hair, gone sparse and brittle,
hangs to her shoulders in thin strings.
She beckons to me, puts a finger to her lips in “hush,”
asks me, Sara, can you hear my music,
demands that I bring her pen and paper.

When I was little, Mother read the comics in the paper,
helped me craft cats and giraffes in clay,
took me to church, but only for the music.
At the zoo, I broke my tooth on peanut brittle.
My cries silenced by her gentle hush,
she bought balloons, tied my hand to their strings.

At times devious, Mother could pull strings,
warn that shenanigans would end up in the paper.
After supper, in the evening’s hush
she’d touch my face, a sculptor with new clay.
When angry, her voice could turn brittle;
memories of her lullabies remain my favorite music.

Now at the end of days, she has music,
piping pan flutes and languid strings.
Her vinyl records are dangerously brittle;
she keeps the oldest wrapped in tissue paper.
Her memory is as malleable as moist clay.
When it wanders into deep waters, I say “hush.”

Mother, you’re a silly child, now hush.
Let’s go outside and listen to the birds’ music;
We’ll take our shoes off, dig our toes in clay.
See how the birds have made their nests with strings.
My mother’s hands, like crumpled paper,
her bones like birds’ bones, hollow, brittle.

Careful up the steps, her bones are brittle.
Enter the dim study, full of dust motes and hush.
Mother’s pages approach the end paper,
the strains of coda echo faintly in her music.
No puppet, she drops as if from cut strings
and her spirit departs the human clay.

The clay cat’s tail is broken; age has made it brittle.
Strings hang from all my hems; I crave the final hush
after the music; the obituary in the paper.


Posted on 05/24/2010
Copyright © 2024 Linda Fuller

Member Comments on this Poem
Posted by Jo Halliday on 05/25/10 at 04:59 PM

Beautifully done. There's a joy in all of your writing, which is all the more touching in this marvellous tribute and ode.

Posted by Roger J Kenyon on 04/08/11 at 02:26 PM

Tis is a great poem in my opinion, rife with feeling.Thank you Linda Fuller.

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