Elizabeth Smither

My mother’s house

Once, near nightfall, I drove past my mother’s house.
She was inside it, moving about some task.
I saw her move from room to room.

I could have stopped. Shortly she would draw the blinds
but a knock on the door might alarm her
who had her routine for night.

It was all those unseen moments we do not see
the best of a friend, the best of a mother
competent and gracious in her solitude

as if she was concentrating as she had as a child
on something she was reading or pondering
a thought that occupied a minute of a day

and brought her pleasure at her own competence
to tame a minute, to exist inside it
as still as the minute was to itself

neither neutral nor particular but she made it
who would soon walk into the last room
of her life and go to sleep in it.


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