Now Calls Me Daughter · Christine Jones
In Now Calls Me Daughter Christine Jones brilliantly flattens time to lament her beloved mother’s Alzheimer’s, and to celebrate the mother Now. These poems trace the tributaries of the quotidian to become achingly more surreal. They pulse with the wildness of fisher cats. And yes, these poems have us contemplating the space we call time, so we all might be the boy who “finds it at low tide.” To enter these poems is to hold closer that family member about to “voyage home in her black church shoes.” These verses know that they cannot “topple aging’s cairn” while doing the magnificent work of staying “alert to the shifting, how it records itself by light.”
— Eileen Cleary, author of 2 a.m. with Keats
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Now Calls Me Daughter
Calls me in the middle of the night
to say voices are watching her sleep.
She’s looking for her shoes; she’s
watched the nightly news, feels
the flooding in Japan just outside
her bedroom door.
I bring her closer, nearer
the sun’s blaze & vanishing.
She sits habitually in her blue chair.
A hummingbird siphons the sugar.
She sings, in French, a song I don’t know
about a warm embrace. Now
dices ripe tomatoes for the sauce
I’m simmering with Merlot.
What I Want to Say Driving Home After My Mother’s Check-Up
The audiologist adjusts her headphones,
tells her to repeat:
Say Talk Talk
Say Hard Hard
Say Dog Dog
Say Bite ___
Say Call Call
Say Net Net
It’s okay. It’s what we become;
a sepia tone I’ve seen fall
across Utah’s red rock –
striations glowing, baring those layers
polished by grim and pitiless erosion.
What we fear is travelling toward us.
But so is what we love; what is good,
and tender. You are my mother,
more palpable each day. You
reminisce, tell me again (dare I say)
of Mr. and Mrs. Honeybloom, your first apartment,
pushing the stroller downtown, and of when
I was young, in the backseat, hugging your shoulders
while you drove, we sang
take me home, country roads.
I am your daughter,
more glaring each year; my words
slipping, too, like the sleep
that doesn’t come, or
the morning paper. I’m missing
your affirmative singular dots, all the while
my own ellipses pile, weightless thoughts.
Dear words, (Mom let’s pray):
Brave this mouth serrated, its grave
doubt. Scars are acceptable.
The fog persists. Meaning
anything I say is questionable.
Heavy mist forges my lines.
How to be understood?
A rattled burst of air strews
a small opening in the windshield,
enough, so if hunched
with chin jutted, I can spot
the exit sign in time.
Now in Autumn: Sonnet II
On the clothesline, dries her flowered blouse.
And while a taut breeze blows, she makes
precise small piles by the house.
No leaf escapes her merry rake.
Now wears a berry fleece, wool hat,
ill-fitted, knitted long ago.
She fancies red birds bright & fat,
spreads toasted breadcrumbs in the grove.
Now greets the cedar tree by name,
the cat, the squirrel, with ma chère.
Her thoughts, unfazed, a late noon shade,
rest in the old oak rocking chair.
And when the tree-frog hours come,
she briefly hears her name, Maintenant.
About the Author
Christine Jones lives on Cape Cod, with her husband, where you’ll find them swimming and running along its shores. She earned her MFA from Lesley University in Cambridge, Massachusetts, and is a therapist and mother of two. She’s the author of Girl Without a Shirt (Finishing Line Press, 2020) and co-editor of the anthology, Voices Amidst the Virus: Poets Respond to the Pandemic (Lily Poetry Review Books, 2020). She’s also the founder/editor-in-chief of Poems2go and associate editor of Lily Poetry Review. Her poetry can be found in numerous journals and anthologies in print and online
Copyright © 2022 Christine Jones
Cover design by d’Entremont
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