Tag Archives: mothers


This is a strange poem to be posting as we haven’t yet gotten to the summer solstice, the longest day of our year. Samhein as you’ll see is well after summer. But, this was the poem I found when looking for something to explore, discuss, and write about healing. How do we help other’s heal and how much healing work do we have to do ourselves to be able to help another person? There is much in the greater world that is sore from today’s wounds and there are many in my small classes that need a salve as well.

Below, I include a quote and after the poem some notes are included as well. Don’t miss that the poem itself ends with some very apt words about death, relationships with mothers, and living with family.

The quote:

“We need to give each other the space to grow, to be ourselves, to exercise our diversity. We need to give each other space so that we may both give and receive such beautiful things as ideas, openness, dignity, joy, healing, and inclusion.”                            Max de Pree

The poem:

Samhein                                                                                 Sylvia Bortin Patience


As days shorten and darkness lengthens,

we celebrate the seed under the earth,

a new year growing in winter’s womb,

the beginning and end of life

stirring in the dark.


The veil thins between the worlds,

those who died are welcomed home.

Rituals of water and mirrors

reflect the light of fires across the void

that separates living from dead.

Cailleach, the blue-black goddess,

begins her reign of wintry night.


I have placed my altar and my candles

in the western window as a guide

for my mother’s spirit journey home.

As she comes closer, I see she has lost

the trappings of her later years,

the walker and the wheelchair.

She moves lightly, a young woman,

dreaming down the beach in search of shells,

lilacs from Iowa in her hands.

Her blue eyes look far away within

where perhaps a poem even now begins.


I am unable to imagine

what she might say to me, or I to her.

The vision remains without a voice.

Even when we lived together,

it was hard for us to know each other.

I have no wish to interrupt her reverie.

For both of us, the poems are enough.



Samhain (pronounced SAH-win) is a Gaelic festival marking the end of the harvest season and the beginning of winter or the “darker half” of the year.

Cailleach (Gaelic pronunciation: kye-luhkh) is a divine hag, a creator deity and weather deity, and an ancestor deity.


Yard Work

We all have memorable and colorful characters in our lives.  (If you’re missing colorful characters consider moving to the deep south.)  This is an inviting poem with great images.  It also contains thoughtful observations on shame, pride, and hope.

Yard Work                                                                Kathleen Lynch

My mother prowled the yard, winding wires around bare stems

of rose bushes, attaching Woolworth’s plastic roses—

her flowered house dress puffed out full,

hair lifting like flames. I watched, embarrassed

by how tacky, how pathetic

but it had been a bad spring all around

what with Dad’s drinking and with nothing

blooming, and from where I stood

I had to admit they looked pretty. The distance

between shame and pride is so mutable we use

both words for the same thing:

She has no shame. She has no pride.

Can this be true? By my calculation over forty

thousand hours have passed since that moment

and still I see her and the bell of that dress,

not a scrim in sight, just sheets snapping

on the line behind her, weeds shivering at her ankles.

And the way she moved, the way she went at it

—a driven thing—another of the countless gestures

she would subsume in silence, a look

in the eye we all knew meant: Say nothing.

And when she sank away into the heap of mystery

books on the couch, a theater of colors in the window

behind her—the strange brilliance and juxtaposition

of fake and real—I began to believe in hope

as something that could be invented

even under dire skies, even when wind

sliced around thorns and we waited

for the phone to ring, and for spring

to become spring.


scrim: (noun) theatrical curtain