I am always interested in the questions of silence, especially as they pertain to women. The holding of silence as a kind of rebellion, the silence of neglect, fear, and the silence of endings/beginnings. “The Mother” is both about a mother passing from the earth and THE mother, who is always here, “from which infinite lines emerge–“ ~Veronica Golos
Untitled by Käthe Kollwitz
My mother has gone quiet—a silence not of lack,
or anger, but of a great attention—a leaning into.
She has left the language of populations,
consequence, variety—even the clamor
of need, she forgets. She smiles at the back and forth
of talk; the art of give and take.
She hears what’s underneath.
Child, she whispers, the sun splashes into the sea;
when the clouds shift, their touch
against the sky rustles
like silk touching thigh.
She is leaving this world.
Her listening is a kind of touch,
the way you’d feel along a wall–intent,
She fills and is filled–is glass, pitcher,
water flowing. She stands at the center
of endless concentric circles, at the navel
of the world, from which infinite lines emerge–
a hand through water,
Veronica Golos is the author of two books of poetry. Vocabulary of Silence (Red Hen Press), the winner of the 2011 New Mexico Book Award for Poetry, is an exploration of war and its witnessing-from-afar. A Bell Buried Deep (Story Line Press), in which “The Mother” was first published, was cowinner of the 16th Annual Nicholas Roerich Poetry Prize and was nominated for a 2004 Pushcart Prize by Edward Hirsch. Golos has performed at the Nuyorican Café, Lincoln Center and Cornelia Street Café in New York City and many venues throughout the Southwest, and her work has been widely published and anthologized in national and international publications. She lives in Taos, New Mexico, with her husband, writer David Pérez.
As part of the NEA-funded program Taos Big Read, on November 12 from 2:30 to 4 pm Golos will participate with biographer Cherie Burns, spiritual writer and translator Mirabai Starr and novelist Summer Wood in “Four Authors/Four Women Characters,” a reading and panel discussion. Admission is free. Location: Millicent Rogers Museum, 1504 Millicent Rogers Road, Taos, New Mexico.
Woodcut print by the great German antiwar artist Käthe Kollwitz is from the website Caprichosa. “The Mother” © Veronica Golos; for permission to reprint, contact the artist at vgdp [AT] aol [DOT] com.