Grace Paley

A Letter

My mother   because I don’t write many poems
for you doesn’t mean I haven’t though about you
every single day of these last fifty years   what
an avalanche of time   I can’t begin to tell you
it’s true though   in one or two busy decades   when
the children were young and noisy   when the war
and intense sexual love interfered   it’s possible
I thought of you my mother less often   even then
suddenly in the evening I might see you for
a moment standing beside my father under
the Norway maple   your hair is at last cut short
and is becoming to your broad Slavic face
your hands are clasped lightly over the belly of
a summer dress   your arms nearly hide the fact
that you have only one breast   I watch my sister
snap that picture   my mother   I have not needed to
hold it in my hand