When I was a little girl,
I lived in a house with a big garden
that gently sloped into a ravine.
Across the water, lived a willow tree
and when my brother and I
followed the stream against the current,
it lead to an open field full of
huge rocks- islands to our childminds
and we swore the water there was magic.
When mom got sick,
I used to walk up stream to
sit, skinny legs folded up against my chest,
smoke cigarettes, let the stream that
has held me my entire life
hold me then
I questioned a lot then, but never that the water
And when she died,
I planted a tree beside her grave
one with purple flowers
like the ones in her garden
like the ones on the kitchen table
passed down from her mother to her
the ones that died when she did
because I’ve never been great with houseplants
but I know a few things about putting down roots.
When I grew up to experience
the first bookend loss,
I drove to Lake Ontario
just like she would have done
and scoured the shore
for a jar full of lake glass
and with my own hope for comfort,
the kind I’ve always felt
rooted in water,
I almost forgot to listen
to the messages she sent through the lake-
Something about collecting and purging
what fills her without any control of her own.
So when the second bookend loss came,
it was waterless winter ice
and it’s taken until spring to thaw
and I can’t help but think that maybe
if I stop
might find that I can
to the elements that have held me my whole life
and maybe by feeling held,
I can hold her too.
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