Shortly before he was killed, my husband and I moved to a rattle-trap beach house on the peninsula in Long Beach. Going to sleep to the sound of the surf and waking to dolphins and pelicans sustained me through the almost unbearable grief. Making the place habitable gave me a task; writing gave me purpose. I am still here, loving the place, taking nothing for granted. www.donnahilbert.com
Author's Note: Here is a poem for my mother and my Aunt Lucy, (my father’s sister) who were best friends from the time of my mother’s marriage at seventeen. They shared a September 3 birthday. They were my muses and two of the liveliest, most energetic women I have ever known. To illustrate the point, here is a photo from 1976 when they returned to the little Oklahoma town where Mother grew up to march in the bicentennial parade. My mom on the left.
Aunt Lucy and Mother Surprise Me with a Visit
I dash frantic room to room
spread a bed, pick up toys,
kick dog bones into corners.
Before I can change my rumpled shirt
or brush my hair,
the dervishes rush the door.
Mother straightens every painting
in her path. Aunt Lucy arranges
knick-knacks on the mantle.
Mother suggests I fold laundry
as I go. Lucy says to try
some Mop and Glo. They’d
love to put my house in order
if they just had time to loiter.
Outside, the dogs drag trash across
the lawn. Of course, they see this
through my smudgy kitchen window.
I plop a can of tuna in a bowl,
whack celery, onion, pickle
to a furious fine mince, finish
with a squirt of mustard,
glop of mayo, and rip open a bag
of chips and call it lunch.
They eat. They split a Coke.
Then, out they whirl
as quickly as they came.
On the porch, kisses, quick goodbyes.
Then Mother runs her thumb
hard down my spine,
her wordless gesture says it all:
straighten up, young lady, it’s past time.
First published in Mas Tequila Review
©2017 Donna Hilbert
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