Academic journal article Southern Quarterly


Academic journal article Southern Quarterly


Article excerpt

In love with the light described

By the near-dead, my mother

Rallied her faltering faith.

She wrote to women her age

Who'd returned from heaven's gate,

Received an answer from one,

A woman whose heart had stopped

For nearly three minutes, who

Used words like "incredible,"

"Glorious," and "fantastic"

And finished with "Loving you

In the wondrous grace of God."

My mother slipped that letter

Into her Bible. She read

Those words so often the folds

Of pale blue stationery

Creased and split. "Don't you ever,

Ever, forget this," she said,

And lived another twelve years

Repeating, for ten of them,

Thomas Edison's last words,

The line he spoke reviving

From a coma, "It's very

Beautiful over there" while

She outlived her confidence

In a lush eternity

She would inhabit, feeling,

Like Mina, Edison's wife,

That "Over there" was the framed

Valley outside the window

He faced when he woke, the light

Splitting fall foliage something

Like the ordinary light

Of January, the sun

For her funeral failing

To spark the noon temperature

To zero, and yet, beside

Her grave, we squinted and raised

Our hands to comfort our eyes

In the bright, intrusive light. …

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