Mothers' Vigil by Claire Scott

Mothers’ Vigil

Mothers' Vigil

by Claire Scott

Say her howls were heard throughout the world.
The anguished cries of a mother whose daughter
was dragged down to the realm of the dead.
Hades mad with lust, bore her away in his chariot
drawn by inky-black horses, haunches heaving.
The earth’s gaping hole closed behind them.
Say she is ripping her linen tunic, pulling out hunks of hair,
wandering the earth searching, desperate, sleepless,
desperate, hollering until her voice is hoarse, her lungs
exhausted. Say salt tears soak her near naked body.
How could grain sway in the Greek sun
when the shadow of her child covers the earth?
The earth shrivels, plants whither, seeds
die barren in parched drought.

Say he is lying in bed, listless for days, not eating,
maybe nibbling a pomegranate seed. Say his eyes
are sunk in the caverns of his cheeks. Say my son
is mired in another cycle of melancholy, unable
to face a life that feels failed. I see mothers and sons
sipping coffee in sidewalk cafés or meandering
through bookstores, meeting up in the children’s
section where they share memories of Max in his wolf
suit and Little Bear on the moon. Say I sleep Ambien
sleep, drink tea gone cold, leave emails unopened,
forget to water the Cyclamen or feed Shiloh. Say I hurl
prayers at a stone deaf god, spit flying from my mouth.
How dare everything seem the same
while his shadow covers the earth.

Say she likes being queen of the underworld. Say
she enjoys the feel of the soft satin robes, enjoys
comforting the newly dead, who are wandering
bewildered on the banks of the Styx. Say he prefers
the thick blanket of despair, the dank day after day
that blurs the broken angles, that allows him
to slip below the surface, sip the waters of Lethe
and slide away. Say I reach across the ebon night
and touch Demeter’s hand. Two mothers waiting
for a sign of mercy, a few flickers of light.


Claire Scott is an award-winning poet who has received multiple Pushcart Prize nominations. Her work has appeared in the Atlanta Review, Bellevue Literary Review, New Ohio Review, Enizagam, and Healing Muse, among others. Claire is the author of Waiting to be Called and Until I Couldn’t. She is the co-author of Unfolding in Light: A Sisters’ Journey in Photography and Poetry.

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