Final Parting

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“The things that are on the surface are nothing; what is deep is the Real.” Thomas Merton

The visit was nearly over;
all that could be said
was nearly said.

My mother lay still on her sick-bed,
carefully arranged in the living room,
smaller than ever I saw her,
pain numbed at last,
as peacefully she fingered her rosary
and waited for me to come in
to say goodbye.

Walking into the dusky room
I knelt down at her low bed
and kissed her sallow face and embraced
her thin, cancer-riven body,
when suddenly she held me tight,
and with surprising strength, pulled me down,
tearfully embracing her child,
and nearly breathless, whispered in my ear,
“I never thought anything like this
would ever happen to me”

and empty at last,
I left.

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