ritual: any practice or pattern of behavior regularly performed in a set manner
Helping her change into her nightgown,
waiting as she washed face, brushed teeth.
Tucking her into bed, I would sit alongside,
talk quietly about siblings, children,
tomorrow and what would come
in those coming hours.
Would smooth sheets and blankets
over her, while she waited silent
and patient. Lean down to kiss
parchment-thin skin of cheek
lifting to meet my lips, as I whispered,
“I love you, Mom.” And she would
whisper back, “I love you, too.”
Moving toward the door, I’d hear
her say in pretended sternness,
“Remember, I want you to behave.”
Turning back with a smile, would
dutifully tell her, “I will,
if you do it first.”
Grinning now, she’d say,
“It’s really hard, but I’ll try…”
ending our ritural with a soft sigh
and slight giggle.
Lost, I no longer know how to behave
in early evening light, as empty wind
of restlessness chases me with its echo
of soft almost whispers, parchment-thin kisses
and even softer giggles.
Elizabeth Crawford 6/14/10