Inspired by by Noemi Shihab Nye's poem "The Words Under the Words" in Nineteen Varieties of Gazelle: Poems of the Middle East.
My mother's hands recognized the stab of a needle on a calloused finger,
the dirt around the root,
the soft, purring fur of cats.
She'd hold my hand in hers, tracing my smooth thumb with her rough, reddened fingers.
Some days I can picture her hands more clearly than her face. My own aging hands startle me to pangs of love and absence.
My mother's days were made of getting things done,
of guaranteeing regular meals to her diabetic husband,
of denying weakness and refusing sloth.
and, after dinner, cookies eaten and stories told.
My mother's voice says
fear and pain are guaranteed in life.
So laugh. Swim in the lake. Make a new friend.
Learn something new. If a heart attack makes mountain climbing impossible
Buy a beach cabin.
God? Who knows. The resurrection? Seems unlikely. But, oh, the Holy Ghost--that she's seen.