The Final Act


The five a.m. alarm clock
scares me awake
from fitful
night-watch sleep.
Even behind eyelids,
crises continue to
reinvent themselves.
I shower, dress and
enter her bedroom.
My mother greets me,
enunciating words
in her velvet voice
“Fancy meeting you here.”

And so begins --
a light banter,
before I shift
into automatic
full speed ahead --
making breakfast,
pouring tea
and an ice-cold coke,
heating chili or soup
for her lunch-time thermos.
(thank goodness
for Depends)

          I hand her the newspaper,
          cover the bed
          with books and
          photograph albums,
          writing-paper and pens.
          I locate her favorite
          easy listening
          radio station
          she will lose
          within minutes
          of my leaving.
          I proofread
          last night’s work,
          typed on the antique
          Royal typewriter.
          No computer here.
          A hug goodbye,
          and I’m off to school.

In Family seminar,
it’s my turn to present.
Paper on incest.
Classmates weep
at passages from
“The Family Secret.”
I grab lunch with Jose
and it’s on to The Door,
my work/study placement.
Roseanna is waiting.
It’s Thursday.
Our session day.
She speaks only to me.
The books say we’ve bonded.
I call it love.

Emergency phone call.
My mother has fallen.
She promises
not to move
until I get there,
and she doesn’t.
I touch her cheek.
She whispers words
“We’ve got to stop
meeting like this.”
Our eyes exchange smiles.
I settle her in.
She wants ice cream.
Coffee Häagen-Dazs.

She died the next spring,
April 26th.
No dress rehearsals.
This drawn out drama,
in 82 acts, now complete.
There are still days,
like this or any other,
when remembering
her beautiful face,
her deeply golden voice,
her quirky wit
and relentless spirit,
I am momentarily adrift,
barely afloat in longing.

barbara moore