Stay With Me

by Charlotte Wolf

couldn’t you
awhile longer and talk
must you go
(from the oxygen-pumped room
this forever bed
this sentenced womb)

stay with me, please?

how could I not see
what she plainly knew
behind a mother’s eyes
where she was going
where I could not follow

downstairs the youngster
eager, towheaded
omen of my tomorrows
mom-mom’s little keeper of forever
kisses waits, begs

play with me, please?

a mystery shrouded
puzzle of pieces
never meant to fit
neatly in the calendar
of days

she was right of course
time ran out, caught me racing
for the stairs
Mama! she cried, mask torn at last
from the grateful mouth
as she went to meet her

my heart mouthed the words
stay with me

Charlotte Wolf returned to university in her fifties to obtain a Master’s Degree. In 1995, upon retiring, she moved to North Carolina. Her writing has appeared as both prose and poetry in Clothes Lines, Just Between Us, Echoes Across the Blue Ridge, Jubilate! A Celebration of Poetry, Western North Carolina Woman, and The Great Smokies Review.

About Stay With Me—While I was still employed, my 86-year-old mother was in hospice in the far reaches of an upstairs bedroom in our 200-year-old farmhouse. My four-year-old grandson spent many wonderful weekends in the country with us as he was growing up, and the allegiance referred to in the poem represents my torn feelings about the division of time, values placed on past and future, and the choices made. It was my mother who cried, “Mama,” which I clearly heard as she passed and I was running up the stairs.