William Michaelian

Poems, Notes, and Drawings

Tag Archive for ‘My Mother’

Monuments

We live in a house full of old furniture, old books, old photographs, old dishes, old pots and pans, and sundry heirloom antiques. Wouldn’t it be strange if we were to populate it with smart devices — a term itself meant to last no longer than what it was coined to sell? Isn’t it better to speak to each other and to ourselves than to an array of gadgets and […]

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My Father Walking, and Twenty-Four Other Things

It occurred to me recently that I walked more than a thousand miles in the immediate neighborhood during the past year, and several hundred more on state park trails — in terms of sheer distance, roughly halfway across the continent. This is hardly a profound realization. But though it was made in small increments, the journey itself was far from mundane. And a journey it remains. Another year and I […]

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Sunday’s Child

At long last I can say I have read Leaves of Grass — every word, in the poet’s final edition. I can also say that I have read each poem aloud, phrase by phrase, line by line, slowly, patiently, thoughtfully, carefully listening all the while. I had read Walt Whitman before. I had read his 1855 first edition, and many of his poems at random. And about fifteen years ago, […]

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A Thimbleful of Ash

My mother writing Christmas cards, late into the night. The darkest time. The greatest light. December 6, 2019   A Thimbleful of Ash If you don’t eat your supper, Santa won’t visit us tonight. All the cookies will go to waste, the cards, the toys, the bows. A fire in the fireplace. The front door left unlocked. Somehow, Santa knows. On the porch, a stack of wood. Long lives, a […]

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A Sturdy Leaf

Memory’s a sturdy leaf — sycamore, say, or valley oak, placed beneath a sheet of grade school paper fleck’d and grain’d, and a crayon in your hand — rubb’d across its ribs and veins, it surfaces in your chosen color — and all you love begins again — father, mother, supper table, open kitchen window — and somewhere, off in the distance, carry’d nigh by the divine providence of dust […]

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Winter Walk

Was it the childhood study of bird tracks that first led him to writing, Or the sacred marks his mother made in her crusts and loaves? And then there was the night sky, with its patient verse of constellations. It might have been those. Whatever it meant to be alone . . . He loved it well and tried to write just like them. Then it snowed . . . […]

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Between the Lines

The private struggles of a writer, his burdens and cares, are like those of anyone. At the same time, he is given a choice: he can write about them, or not write about them. The choice itself is a burden, for one is no more wrong or right than the other; both are right; both are wrong; one is an affront to his fellow humans; the other is an affront […]

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So Begins December

Winter Poems. It’s a slender volume, and its design is somewhat crude. But what does it matter now? Did it matter then? No. It was a joy to behold, and to see in my mother’s hands. Now I find it on her shelf, between Harper Lee and The Grapes of Wrath. Life is like that. So is death. All is good. Nothing blooms by half.   So Begins December There’s […]

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Maybe on a Summer Day

Twenty-six degrees. I’m reminded of a similar morning in my mother’s old age, when the furnace stopped working, and how for the entire time during its repair, I chatted with the workman while she stayed in bed to keep warm, snug and unperturbed beneath her grandmother’s quilt, secure in the haze of her thought and non-thought, as if her dementia were a pair of soft comfortable pajamas. Now my wife […]

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At the Flower Show

During the last few years of her life, my mother did not know the time, the day, the month, the season, the year, or the name of the town where she lived. She just lived. She liked music. She liked flowers. She liked apple juice. She did not like pain. Now, I know what time it is. But I do not know what time is. I like rain.   At […]

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