In memorium, Lavena Fay Gober, February 17, 2006
Heading toward you
for our last goodbye
I don’t know what to say –
I never knew what to say to you
never knew who I was in your house –
non-favored daughter of your non-favored son.
You were always gnarled
surrounded by the blue of your veins –
your hands knotted around everything but my life.
I never thought that malformity would be me
but lately my feet
have taken the first steps
toward the shape of yours.
I have your feet
but never walked in your shoes.
And now, what am I to tell you,
as you turn from the grandmother
I hid from
to the ancestor I never knew –
who never understood or claimed me?
Your legacy of silent favoritism
a barrier I could never cross
built before I was born
and shored up with each of my mistakes
and years of my absent regrets.
Now the space between us flutters sheet-thin
and white like surrender.
Your breath and mine coming fast,
shallow, meeting somewhere past
where your stories end
and mine begin.
The overlap lies invisible
like our connection
like your influence
pulling me now to the right side of the bed
where you struggle for peace
and I reach for words to reach you.
Unable to hold your past
or our futures,
I will grasp your strong hands
soft if bony,
twisted like our familial love.
What will I say to you,
formidable, dismissive matriarch,
when my whole life
has been a silent, prolonged apology
buried in goodbye?