corning in the morning

Despite your aching feet and bad back,

you said you’d go with me 

to The Corning Museum of Glass, 

“Cause we’re not getting any younger…”

“Enough!” I laughed, “I’ll pay for the gas!” 

With you driving, cruise control on,

GPS set, we were soon on the Thruway,

passing a truck with Butcher on Wheels

bold on its sides, “Could be a song,” 

I said, and in response, with gangster inflection,

you burst into verse,“Ya say ya got a problem? 

We know how it feels. Who do you call? 

Butcher on Wheels.”

As the miles flew by, 

we harmonized, co-conspirators

 raised in a 3-room apartment in Brooklyn,

until a sudden question popped into my head.

 “What novel was Mommy reading when she died? 

The one you put in her casket to finish

when she got up to heaven?”

You had a puzzled look.

 “What book?”

 “I’ll check when I get home,” I replied,

as Corning neared and you shared 

a memory it was my turn not to recall,

how you rushed over after the nurse’s call,

to find our mother lifeless in her hospital bed,

eyes aimed at the TV she played constantly,

and you, upon seeing Jolie, your 5-year-old, 

in a 30-second Macy’s commercial, cried,

“Look, Mommy, your granddaughter’s

 first ad is finally on TV!”

We laughed through tears, 

and though Corning’s got a neat museum,

in a world less real than last night’s dream,

the journey proved the main thing, a tribute

to love, coincidences, and rhyme,

all precious gifts, cosmic and divine.

Back in Tucson and determined,

I rummaged through cartons stacked high

with poorly labeled diaries, until

I came upon my shaky entry

dated June 11, 1999;

how you slipped into Mommy’s

ice cold hand the novel she’d been

reading her last night on Earth,

Lavyrie Spencer’s Then Came Heaven.



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