For Dora Mae Ellington

Fifty-six years ago you gave birth to me.

So much of my past has fallen silent.
Pale images float unheeded through my memories,
faces places amassing anonymously,
from one moment to the next, indistinguishable
leaving me—what?—less than I am perhaps.

But I remember your smile, so full,
your heart so rich and reaching out,
ever offering warmth and comfort
to friends and family and indeed
to anyone you might chance upon.

For that was precisely who you were—
a woman of such love and kindness,
always mindful of the needs of others,
always seeking to help and hold
and bring peace to those around you.

Did you know, father still reaches for you,
touches your photo every night before bed,
his heart ever dwelling with you.
We all miss you. How could we not?
You, who meant so much to us all.

I do not care for birthdays anymore,
at least, not my own, not really.
But if this day matters at all,
as it does to my beautiful wife, my children,
it matters because of you, Mother.

Thank you for all you did for me,
for all of us.

We will never forget you.

You

For M

a sound, an eager angry sound from him
and so commences this your wedded life
with a lingering squeal so shrilly sublime

a word from his lips driven spiky-spitted
into your tormented brain, there to reside
a grave reminder for all this engrainèd union

a touch of his once sweet tender wooing
quickly devolved breast-bared into brittle
battering demanding of you fleshly more

a chastisement that you-not-he have failed
and in failing have delivered up any claim
you might have borne to being in the right

a time that has passed and yet shall never
pass beyond remembering in glaring gray
these petulant petals of remorse no more

a you beyond any she he could ever know
being so wonderfully free and unrepentant
while strolling bare-foot in ever virgin fields

this image I behold and bequeath unto you
from a time I cannot see, but feel like daggers
deeply buried in this world-aging heart

Salt Lake City 08 May 2012