Rhona McAdam is one of my favourite poets. When it comes to turning ordinary words into something else, I think she's about the best.
Consider this, from her poem, "Anniversary"
It’s been a mother since my year has died,
a clutch of grey hairs, a loosening of skin.
Each day I move closer to you, the sound
of my own voice hums in my bones, a family sound.
And yes, today is the first anniversary of my own mother's death. When I thought about what to write today, I couldn't help thinking of Rhona's poem. There is nothing complicated about any one of the words. The biggest word in there is ‘loosening’. But put the words together, and they make up more than simple sentences. We know about the poet’s mother’s dementia, understand that the poet herself is dealing with aging, yet she never has to say these things directly. The arrangement of these simple words leads us to those understandings. To me, that is what constitutes the magic of poetry.
Being remembered by those who love us may be the truest immortality any of us has a right to. By honouring my mother today, I hope I'm giving a bit back to her. The little shrine I made includes treats I've pulled out of the freezer, ones I've saved for such an occasion as today -- Christmas cookies. Why? Because my mother, Carole, was born on December 25th, a date that sadly isn't even noted on the place where her body rests (rules -- but this isn't a time to get me going on bureaucracies).
In closing, one more stanza from Rhona's poem, which by the way is taken from Cartography (Oolichan Books, 2006):
It's been a mother since my year has died,
a hot, dry mother, a cold snow and rain
and now wind, wind as we've seldom seen it
tearing the leaves from the trees and howling.
Oddly, this has been a week of wild winds, ones that have made me concerned for all the trees that live in our yard. I hope, when those predicted winds rise again tonight, my mother will be amongst them, singing.