The great plains have never been kind to women
yet there they came to settle and bring their culture
their civilizing ways to men, to grass, to gardens.
They sewed their quilts and chatted to themselves
Some could sing and share their voices with others
in their small groups over tea, coffee, and cakes
and so they were with themselves a force and culture
as their men went off to wars or the fields.
They still had themselves and their soft voices praying.
My mother and her mother sang duets for small teas,
small gatherings where women were themselves,
could be with themselves and enjoy the talk and
the sounds they themselves made in the afternoons,
the sounds of singing, the sounds of chattering about
nothing but being women in their strength and weakness,
and they sang for many years and were friends
for many years until time finally separated them
when Grandmother fell and passed a month later.
And now a son takes care of his mother and listens
for every sound she makes even in the dark of night
in the room down the hall filled with old photos;
there are no other women around his mother now
and the son is not suited for this effort.
She hears her mother's voice in the singer on the radio
and quietly says, “Goodnight, Mother” in her lonely bed.
And I leave her room to the light from the yard
and go to a living room so quiet and peaceful and lonely.
And when the time begins to wane for me and for you
and the nights are lonely even when someone may
listen for your soft stirrings in the night in the dark,
who will you be saying goodnight to when your eyes close,
when your eyes close for the final time on the edge
of the last night when all the memories of mother,
of father, of brother, and sisters flood your old gray head,
who will you call to remembering all the times you
sang together, chatted together, who will be with you then.
Copyright © 2011 by Barry G. Wick