When my maternal grandmother died in 1980, I wrote this poem as an ode to my Mum, whose brave rejection of traditional dogma--hers was, and is, an individual and intellectual take on matters spiritual--I'd known (and often aspired to) since babyhood, though competing voices always hummed in the background. You see, my mother chose our schools for their academic muscle, not their church affiliations; that meant, over the course of living in various parts of the hemisphere, that we were exposed to wildy divergent belief systems along the way. At twenty, I thought I knew everything. Loss made me reflect and reconsider. I never did find a concrete answer, but I knew, as I wrote this, that losing Nanny had made me love and appreciate her daughter--my own dear mother--that much more.
I think she said to me, one time,
A cynic always she'd remain;
To laugh at hymns in perfect rhyme
And ridicule the rough refrain
Of voices. Hers, a twisted cry
Above the congregation floats
As they await the Broken Lie
To crumble in their sinful throats.
The circles lilies that they sent
Were cruel, she said, though sweet, though bright--
For they were never flowers meant,
But compensations for one's plight.
I think I'll tell her she was right,
For now I'm twenty and I see:
Their Man In Charge can end the light.
He took her mother away from me.
-- DNT 1980