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The Wild Honey Buzz: Less is More in '24, May Edition: A Ritual for Grieving the Loss of a Mother - "Scattering the Locks" (from "In the Grip of Grace" poetry collection).

Scattering the Locks

I. She's humming on the porch swing:

Some glad morning when this life is o'er, I'll Fly Away

Her hair hangs like a long dark mystery

waist length, the color of coal.

She keeps it twisted,

pinned in a bun

to the back of her head.

Too hot when hanging down,

I ask her, why not cut it?

Your daddy likes it long, she says.

So my mother lives with this length

for a long time.

She keeps humming:

Just a few more weary days and then, I'll Fly Away

One steamy summer afternoon

she sits fanning, sweating,

asks me to fetch scissors.

I slice thick locks of

cast iron and they fall

as crow feathers on wind.

She thinks it odd that I gather them and

carry the locks west

to sleep in cities, Seattle, San Francisco.

II. Southern locks lie sleeping

in my cold North drawer,

waiting and knowing

what I could not have known:

How much I would need her locks

once she was gone.

When the shadows of this life have grown, I'll Fly Away

She slips into lilac scented spring dawn

before I can reach her

I must cross

The Continental Divide

Saint Louis,

Dark hollows, Great Stone Face

and Elk Knob.

I call but no one answers the phone:

Like a bird from prison bars has flown, I'll Fly Away

She flies and I feel her coming to me

carried on wings of wonder.

She arrives and I open the drawer,

lift the locks, ready myself for release.

I'll Fly Away, Oh Glory, I'll Fly Away

When I die, hallelujah by and by, I'll Fly Away

III. I don't view the body

I don't attend the funeral

I don't receive the ashes,

I scatter the locks.

First in the park where I last heard her voice,

for nesting robins and chickadees

and in the cemetery near my home.

To a land where joys shall never end, I'll Fly Away

Next in water:

Lake Washington, Puget Sound

Pacific Ocean, and my backyard.

She never traveled far from the family farm,

or wished to fly on an airplane, preferred train.

But we never boarded together.

She never came west,

only in her dreams.

To a home on God's Celestial Shore, I'll Fly Away

Now her locks lie scattered around the world:

Maui Black Rock, Hong Kong and Dark Continent.

I carry her always with me,

in locks of hair, DNA,

cellular memory,

my own mystery.

(From "In the Grip of Grace" forthcoming from Finishing Line Press, 2024) First published in Entropy Magazine, August 2019).

Click here to listen to Willie Nelson sing "I'll Fly Away."

2 Kommentare

Jean Kercheval
Jean Kercheval
09. Mai

Such powerful words. Beautifully written. Thank you so much for sharing your experience and emotions so eloquently with the world.

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Marianne Mersereau
Marianne Mersereau
11. Mai
Antwort an

I'm so glad this poem resonates with you and I really appreciate your comment! Thank you for being such an important member of my poetry/writing community! I so value your friendship, support and encouragement!

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