Poetry: Two Poems by Meg Eden
These two poems by Meg Eden offer clear vision of so many homes: the losses that age inevitably brings, the memories that lift and twist with time, the search for a daughter’s place and difference before her mother. It’s all there, well crafted and full of berries.
Alzheimer’s, Where My Grandmother is a Blueberry Bush
A mimosa grows out of my grandmother.
Every spring, I weed her.
I climb inside her chest and cut
the poison ivy, honeysuckle, grape
vines that try to grow around her arms.
Every year it thickens. Every year
I have less time to tend to her.
I go to school, I am getting
married. My grandmother understands.
Her berries get fewer—the ones
that fill get snatched by birds.
A cat lives inside my grandmother’s
feet and has given birth to kittens.
I am moving out soon—who
will take care of my grandmother?
Every time I visit, she becomes
less and less recognizable. My grand-
mother is buried alive in a dress
of underbrush. My parents
can’t maintain her. It’s getting harder
to discern what is grandmother /
what is weed / what is aging.
She’s still there today—a couple
withered berries hold fast. She tells me
she loves me very much and what
is my name again, have we met before?
Instructions for Speaking in Tongues
When your mother watches, open
your mouth & ask God in that Secret
Language—not for clean-faced holiness—
but a way out of duty, this house, this city.
If you are afraid, speak louder until
you speak in holy all-caps. Consider
lifting your hands up—this makes people think
you are in touching range of God.
Continue until the Spirit says to stop—
the Spirit being your mother inside you,
being your desire to know God fully,
to translate worship into something you can grasp.
When your friend asks what
you were doing in the back of that theater,
let yourself consider for a moment
that this is not what the disciples did
that Pentecost, that none of this is normal.
When she says she doesn’t speak in tongues,
that she’s never heard someone speak
in tongues before, don’t think her unrighteous—
don’t do as your mother would & hand her
a church lobby tract. How can you
when this very language still feels wrong
like foreign metal, stinging in your mouth?
In the theater-dark you imagine God
sweeping you up like Elijah, away
from the language of long skirts &
silence, of modesty & your mother
& yourself. No one can overhear
your prayers with God, no one can take
God from you, or snatch you out of His hand.
Your mother’s voice is loud above your own.
Inside you, let the planet grow until
it explodes & forms its own holy galaxy.
Meg Eden's work is published or forthcoming in magazines including Prairie Schooner, Poetry Northwest, Poet Lore, RHINO and CV2. She teaches creative writing at the University of Maryland. She has five poetry chapbooks, and her novel Post-High School Reality Quest is published with California Coldblood, an imprint of Rare Bird Books. Find her online at www.megedenbooks.com or on Twitter at @ConfusedNarwhal.