In the Gaps

I’m focusing on living in the gaps. It’s been a little over two months since my mother died, and when she was sick everything was gaps. She was hanging in a gap as if suspended over a gorge, halfway between earth and sky. Nothing was clear-cut when Mom was dying, and oddly, that somehow made sense. As if that’s what dying is: slipping into the gap.

Here’s what I mean by gaps.  Recently I e-mailed a poem to someone. The poem was called “Trying to Raise the Dead” by Dorianne Laux, one of my favorite contemporary poets.  My reader replied, saying that he found the poem, like most poetry,  “cryptic.”  I have never been of the mind that Laux’s poetry is circumspect or obscure with a difficult-to-delineate meaning. This reader was hung up on the details. The narrator is at a house. “Whose house?” my reader demanded. She’s at a party and she doesn’t know the people that well. “Why is she there? Why doesn’t she know them?” She’s outside, and the others are inside, singing. “How come? Why doesn’t she go back inside with them?” (To this, I answered, “Maybe she was smoking a cigarette.”  Geesh.)

Poetry leaves gaps. I’m comfortable with them. Not the esoteric, overly academic puzzle poems people love to praise, probably because they figure something so convoluted must be intelligent. Laux’s poetry isn’t pretentious or overworked. It just leaves open space so that when I read it, I can make it mine.

My mother loved poetry, understood the gaps, was in her element in them, actually.  But she loved music more.  She used to say that music speaks to that for which there are no words. So does poetry, I say. Good poetry, anyway.

Now that Mom is gone, I’m left trying to articulate to people what made her special, what it is that I miss. What I miss is that she knew a deep truth. That knowing was her unique gift. I will miss her facility with gaps.

I suppose my mother can be found only in those spaces between things now.  Wherever, if anywhere, the essence of her exists, it is not on this physical plane. At least, this is what I tell myself so that I don’t keep looking here. I look there – in the gaps. I listen to song after song, read poem after poem, trying to find one that makes me feel just the right way. Makes me feel like she is still here.


10 thoughts on “In the Gaps

  1. Glad you enjoyed it, Alicia. I’m pleased that it struck a chord with you. It is harder than I anticipated posting “unedited” things (sort of like Spontaneous Pen) on here, but that was my credo going in. A good writing exercise, to be sure.

  2. How lucky your mother’s dying was the gap. My gap occurred during my mother’s living…she loved my brother, and her daughters were left to create their own lives. We did. My sister and I both graduated from college at 50+, independent women with husbands who love us for that very quality.My mother was an orbital figure, there for a while, but would dart of in rage each time that my brother was caught in some extramarital fling, beside herself that we could not understand how our brother had suffered. In the end, it was only when she died that there were no more gaps, and this is the thing that makes me the saddest.

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