She Meets Infinity in a Swirl of River Water

One morning she walks down to the Black River.
       It looks black, in winter, and what better name

for a river in Hell? The water swirls like smoke,
       phantasmagoric, and there, distorted, she sees

her own history—the water eddying, oh closeness
       to her daughter, then slipping away,

unseen, unseeable. She weeps. Tears freeze on her coat,
       not the flowing cape you’d expect but a plain wool coat,

buttoned at the collar. Around her neck
       a skygrey handknit scarf she’ll unroll

like smoke once she’s climbed the long hill home.
       Crows in the river birch, cawing raucous pleas.

If they are pleas. (Isn’t everything.)
       Someone watching would think, There’s a woman

who’s known her share of sorrow.
Would smile
       as she passed, thinking she had an otherworldly

beauty though she looked ordinary enough,
       the wool coat, the old boots, the handknit scarf

that—you’re gone, she’s home—she unrolls
       like smoke. (This is life, where everything

repeats itself.) A mother. A daughter. A mother

The flower driven up from the root, out of winter
       into sun and blossoming, into death that must be

repeated until you get the winter truth of it:
       life goes on, yes, it goes on and on without you.

Lynne Knight | Any Number of Women
Mudlark Contents | Mudlark Chap No. 66 (2018)