The Absent Mother | Sojourners

The Absent Mother

My mother is a very humble person
who has turned her heart into
an illuminated home.

Her deep eyes move and I know
she loves me.
She has used her hands in life
and for me she saves her
gentlest words.
My mother is beautiful--
Her heart gentles when she talks
to me--
With her tiny hand and fingers she
closes the window on cold nights.

I am pained as I see my reflection
behind her tears, which now
glisten like lamps.

I always carry with me the image
of her tender face--and I speak
sweetly in soft voice.

She knows how to find me in her
and with her voice the shadows
call me.

I know she remembers me each day
and urges my arrival.
The earth becomes transparent
and as she washes her hands
lights fall in the water.

The night would have been more
soothing if we, her children, had
had a little sister.

But we aren't all at the table
and we become children as we
mention her.

As I pronounce her name
the bees whisper their syllables
and burn their wings.

I kiss her from afar--
I would like her to be
near so I could kiss her
and hug her and feel her
next to me like a real mother.

The author of this poem, which has been translated into English, was a 13-year-old girl who witnessed the murder of her parents. Her name has been withheld for her protection.

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