Saturday, May 3, 2008


Mom, I thought of you today
and the way you'd pin
a scarf to your hair sometimes. You never said
it was what your own mother had done
in the shtetl, across the sea, every day of her married life.
You never asked me to do the same, for perhaps
the covering of your head represented only a gesture,
the fix for a bit of unruly hair some afternoons,
two pins haphazardly placed, one over each ear.
Who will ever know?
All that I know is of your beauty:
how that slight tuck of hair enhanced
the best face I have ever seen.
I,the ugly duck, you,the queen of sequins and the divine,
each serving her duty to the other:
mother to daughter, daughter to mother,
played out one million times before.

In your last photo, taken on the front porch,
your face takes on the look of an entire generation.
Tumor hidden, a simple transcendent light
glows from inside your brain. You display
only a slight backward glance.
You would be dying soon, and it was fine;
years had played themselves out,
and you had chosen your next in line.
All was well: You had transferred your hell.
The Queen is dead; now lives her broken shell.

ellen moser
for mom's 104th birthday

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