My mother suffered from dementia as a result of a major hemorrhagic stroke in 2001—what we in the family referred to as her brain-bleed. We cared for her at home during the last five years of her life. We always wondered what her body knew of the accident and of Julia’s death. The poem “Lotus Eater” from mother’s section of Sightlines tells a story of death and remembrance.
When Homer docked in the land of the Lotus-Eaters,
he knew exactly what to do.
Don’t eat the flowers!
Lotus-Eaters lived in a land time forgot.
In turn, they forgot all about time.
You could spend your life dreaming.
In this heaven of the gods nothing nasty ever happened.
When someone dies there, they drop down through the sky, away from heaven.
The Lotus-Eaters wave goodbye and in the next instant, eat another petal.
The dream floats on.
Does she know?
Sometimes it seems as if she’s about to.
But, she slides past it, soft focus.
We know for her.
She lives in a land time forgot.
She doesn’t even know to wave.
She just eats another petal.
The actual writing of the body of work in Sightlines: A Poet’s Diary after its inception in late December 2004 took nine months. Through spiritual guidance—common sense really—I was shown not only how to begin, but also how to protect the work while writing. I wrote with the door closed, so to speak, without much commentary or critiquing from others. I simply wrote from my heart.
My mother was a brilliant woman who overcame many obstacles in her life. Once she set her mind to do something, it was as good as done. Mother’s praise poem gives a sense of her legacy and what it was like to be the daughter of a mother who (like Whitman) was large and contained multitudes. This is bed-time story length, so just lean back and sit a spell.