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Happy New Year!

Like so many holiday travelers (perhaps you?), our family had unexpected adventures, trying to visit my mother in North Carolina at Christmastime. Happily, we eventually made our way to her.

As you can imagine, I haven’t had much time to write since arriving. Yet I want to welcome you to 2023 with the gift of new material. So here’s a poem, sprung from a tender moment I shared with Mom, perched on the edge of her bed, the first day we were together again.

As we all begin afresh while continuing on, may we remember that poetry has the power to make us all “someones” to one another.

Phyllis Cole-Dai

            Upon reading John O’Donohue’s “Beannacht”
            with my 82-year-old mother

I sit with her on the edge of her bed,
one arm tight around her shoulders,
as if I’m wire holding her together.
I recite for her the Irish blessing
a friend had sent her with a note:
Ask your daughter to read you
this poem when she comes to visit.

My mother hadn’t remembered,
but as in every other December,
when I arrived she gave me a basket
stacked with her holiday mail,
wanting me to know everything
about everyone she knows,
even those she has forgotten.

That’s when I find it.
I read it aloud
like a small loaf of bread,
feeding its short lines
to the eager mouth of her life.
She keeps leaning in.
She prefers poems
with rhyme and meter.
This blessing has neither,
but she hears its poetry
in the sounding of my voice.
It means so much more
when someone reads it,
she says when I’m done,
and at this late hour
I’m glad to be her someone,
as she is someone for me,
knit together by words
being spoken,
broken open by words
being heard.

Photo by Jr Korpa on Unsplash
Phyllis Cole-Dai

Phyllis Cole-Dai has authored or edited eleven books in multiple genres, including historical fiction, spiritual nonfiction and poetry. She lives in Brookings, South Dakota, USA.

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