We are leaving Ordinary Time
time of the winter cardinals, of the wet leaves
under snow—time of could you turn
your head a little bit more toward me
during class picture day.
That cross-eyed girl in fourth grade
has stared back at you for decades.
You hope she didn’t know you
were mean to her behind her back,
that you sometimes crossed your eyes
in fun after she passed you in the hallway,
even though your mother swore
your face could get stuck that way.
Your mother told you many things that weren’t true:
cottage cheese and jelly makes a fine dinner,
you always need to wear a slip,
you will succeed at something—we all do—
and some that were: lipstick is essential;
leave a trace everywhere you go,
people will know you’ve been there.
Your father is a good man.
I will always love you.
Your mother stays inside you, even though
she lives in the somewhere else now,
someplace where she is a little more like God,
which she would love.
Maybe she lives in the sky
or on a street paved with jewels,
or maybe just still in the ground,
beneath the patchwork blanket her own
mother quilted, waiting
for him and you and the others
who are still walking in and out
of ordinary time toward dust,
with ashes, proclaiming
the end and the beginning
of the palms waving in triumph.