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My Mother Came to Me

2 Poems by
Bryant Burroughs


My Mother Came to Me

My mother came to me
as I washed dishes. She visits
once in a while, as if in her land
a day is a thousand of mine,
a land somewhere other than here.
Perhaps she is accessible every day,
if I could but see.

Soaked by her presence, and I
with hands in soapy water,
called to her as warm love
suffused bones and heart and soul,
as if once again I was utterly safe,
and angst and fear and worry
fled far away.

Why does she visit, I wonder?
Perhaps to say good night
as in long ago days
her voice floated from her room
to us children:
“This has been a good day.
Rest now.
You are safe.
A good day will follow this good night.”

The Little Table

The little table on our sun porch
is older than I am –
bought by my parents when they married.
I like to imagine it was the day they took pictures of themselves,
just the two of them in the countryside,
as if the only people in the world.
Their images are monochromatic reminders
that they were Martha and Leland
before they were Mother and Dad.
Weeks from their wedding, their faces
are full of love and hope and surety
that life together would be good.

My mother was a year out of marching
as a majorette in high school,
and happily unaware that she was only three years away
from her own mother’s death.
My father was three years out from serving in the Pacific,
confident that he could bend the future to his will
as surely as gravity bends light.
I joined them a year and a week into their marriage,
their first born, a son who bore my dad’s name.

There’s a presence now with this little drop-leaf table
that shared time and space with them,
cozy and close with its leaves down
and, with leaves up, spacious for the family
that grew from two to six.
I wonder: does the little table talk
to the table in the hallway,
the one that was in my grandparents’ house?

Oh, the stories they could tell.

Bryant Burroughs writes stories and poems as reminders of those things he hopes are real and true. He and his wife, Ruth, live in Upstate South Carolina with their three cats.

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