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Elegy for My Mother, Patricia Finn Wise

It was long ago,

When the gusts of April had yet to give way to the calm breezes of May,
           and the sun was hanging down into the blue Pacific.
My mother stood on the promontory of the cliff overlooking the sea,
Calling me home, startling me from my child's wonder as I played along the
           rocky shore below,
Entranced by fantastic tidepool creatures,
           a boy's careless communion with the world.

I can still see her silhouetted against the evening sky,
Hear the gentle strains of her voice calling me back to the human,
           the oft-repeated ritual of the family dinner,
           the taken for granted routines that comprise the golden scrapbook of memory,
The frail universe of the family whose center was the warmth of my mother's shining
           unwavering heart.

Often since then, dear mother, wandering among the lost,
I have sought solace in the wisdom of your voice,
           have found strength an courage in your words,
           have been shown the way through the darkness by
           the light of goodness within your soul.

Now time has had its way.
Who would have thought the day would pass so quickly,
           that the green grass of April would fade so soon
           into the barren fields of December?

Don't worry, Mom, your son is coming.
The way is steep and the path narrow,
           but guided by the true strains of your voice
           I will make it through.
Your sweet music is lost,
           its brave cadence passing reluctantly into the silence of eternity.
But the goodness it contained will remain forever.

Raoul J. Wise

Wise wrote "Elegy" in memory of his mother who died unexpectedly
this spring. He is a poet, painter, and teaches American Literature
and bilingual literature at Santa Maria High School on the Central
Coast of California.