When I Am Most Sick

When I am most sick, she confesses,
My mother’s face swims close
Like a dimly discerned form
On tree bark on which

I trace the tenderness I craved
Drawn by sickness to my window
Witnessing penance in unremitting pain
As in a cloister where whispers seek

Absolution that will never be given
By roots winding, coiling, her fingers
As leaves brushing bark into memory
Locked in a brace of trees.

“Embrace”
(painting by Lee Madgwick used by permission
for dVerse’s Poetics ekphrastic prompt)

34 thoughts on “When I Am Most Sick

      1. I sense a web of needs desired but not met here, or at the least delayed. There seems to be penance on both sides, and hesitancy, but at the same time a bond that has been damaged but that still holds. Forgive me if I have it wrong.

        –Shay

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      2. Dear Shay,
        That’s exactly what I was trying to convey and you put it perfectly. You’re a wonderful poet so it’s not surprising you’re such a great reader: I love the attention you bring to both activities.
        ~Dora

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  1. I agree with Sarah, there’s a sad fragility here that seems almost fatal, like an ancient childhood wound or loss that has grown the carapace of this poem. Potent use of the image. Hope you’ve been well – Brendan

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    1. Exactly! Unfortunately, people can spend their lives asking questions that don’t have an answer (especially in familial relationships!) Accepting without a sense of injury or resentment that love is almost never given unconditionally except by God is not an easy lesson to learn. Thanks for reading, Jimmy.
      ~Dora

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      1. This is so true Dora:” Accepting without a sense of injury or resentment that love is almost never given unconditionally except by God is not an easy lesson to learn.” So true

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  2. There is something very unsettling about all his images. The trees do seem to be holding too tightly. There’s a pensive longing in your words for the embrace that was perhaps not warm and caring. Very haunting but beautiful write, Dora.

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