Again, it’s dark and gray with rain.  This January offers stillness and reflective time.

I’ve been immersed in Tracy K. Smith’s memoir Ordinary Light.  The book ends with the passing/passage of her mother.  

Lately I’ve felt my mother close though she passed 15 years ago.  Perhaps it’s the birth of my grandchild, her great grandchild that connects the cords.

Tracy ends the book with a poem by Seamus Heaney from his book, The Haw Lantern.  The sonnet sequence called “Clearances” is an elegy for his mother.  It closes with this. 


I thought of walking round and round a space

Utterly empty, utterly a source

Where the decked chestnut tree had lost its place

In our front hedge above the wallflowers.

The white chips jumped and jumped and skited high.

I heard the hatchet’s differentiated

Accurate cut, the crack, the sigh

And collapse of what luxuriated 

Through the shocked tips and wreckage of it all.

Deep-planted and long gone, my coeval

Chestnut from a jam jar in a hole,

Its heft and hush become a bright nowhere,

A soul ramifying and forever

Silent, beyond silence listened for 

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