Mother Died Today

By DAVID LEHMAN

Mother died today. That’s how it began. Or maybe yesterday, I can’t be sure. I gave the book to my mother in the hospital. She read the first sentence. Mother died today. She laughed and said you sure know how to cheer me up. The telegram came. It said, Mother dead Stop Funeral tomorrow Stop. Mother read it in the hospital and laughed at her college boy son. Or maybe yesterday, I don’t remember. Mama died yesterday. The telegram arrived a day too late. I had already left. Europe is going down, the Euro is finished, and what does it matter? My mother served plum cake and I read the page aloud. Mother died today or yesterday and I can’t be sure and it doesn’t matter. Germany can lose two world wars and still rule all of Europe, and does it matter whether you die at thirty or seventy? Mother died today. It was Mother’s Day, the day she died, the year she died. In 1940 it was the day the Germans invaded Belgium and France and Churchill succeeded Chamberlain as Prime Minister. The telegram came from the asylum, the home, the hospital, the “assisted living” facility, the hospice, the clinic. Your mother passed away. Heartfelt condolences. The price of rice is going up, and what does it matter? I’Il tell you what I told the nurse and anyone that asks. Mother died today.

 

David Lehman, editor of The Best American Poetry series, has recently published a new collection of poems, Yeshiva Boys.

[Purchase your copy of Issue 05 here]

Mother Died Today

Related Posts

Brazilian Poets in Translation

ELIANE MARQUES
Don’t carry large umbrellas (neither at night nor during the day) / They might seem to be an AR-15 rifle or an HK submachine gun / Don’t use drills / They can be confused with a pistol and the bullets being fired / Don’t carry bags / They can suggest that you’re carrying a bomb

poetry feature image

October 2020 Poetry Feature: JinJin Xu

JINJIN XU
And another alights on the sidewalk, / another alights, I step around their outlines / into our next life - om mani padme hum / you emerge from the red dawn to shake open my life, / upside down, flying dust, you unlock / the red cell, cameras light up one by one

Dive

JENNIFER PERRINE
We parked and followed the unlit path, / Hansels and Gretels flocking, hungry, / to our gingerbread shack, sweets hidden / behind a plain façade, unmarked save / for a rainbow draped over the door.