her

the picture shows a different me
a different her
from any i well remember

she sits, smiling but wooden
this is not her
i stand, smiling, bespectacled
this is not me

no. she is tall and robust
rustic and domestic
food, household chores
the care of sons, daughters, cousins, sisters, brothers, grandchildren
this is her

this chair-bound person is not her
this man is not me

ninety-nine years she counted
bereft of her life’s labor and love for seventeen of those years
eight of her nine siblings having gone before
she finally laid down her head
in the care of a daughter

she who taught us to swim
who took us to markets
who made the spaghetti and brownies that will never be matched
who sheltered us, even though we didn’t know it then
who almost never remembered our names, for there were many, many children
who never left behind the ways of the farm on which she was raised
far to the north

this is her

25 January 2011, Los Angeles

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