Now is my year of my mother's age,
the one death caught her at and froze,
catching too the foot-tapping, finger-
drumming daughter of the final photograph.
But this year I'm her equal, a delayed twin,
same name, same birthday,
and bell-clanging same age.
Were she to come back she'd think me
eighteen, and warn me about the world.
She wouldn't believe I've been wise as she
and know more about raising children.
But maybe she's been learning too—
finding images, exploring stars,
Maybe we could talk of Hopkins,
and what's in outer space,
and when the world will end,
and still, she'd teach me a thing or two.
Maybe we could explain ourselves—
why she cried and I turned cold,
what I concealed and she suspected—
explain ourselves, and turn to sisters.
Were she to come back ... ?
a conjecture to be closed
in permitting the dead
the privilege of their deaths.
Mennonite poet Barbara Esch Shisler lived in Telford, Pennsylvania with her husband and one of her three grown children and worked part-time at Provident Bookstore when this poem appeared.