Robert DeMott’s poetry has appeared in many journals, including Ontario Review, Georgia Review, Southern Review, Hiram Poetry Review, Southern Poetry Review, Lake Effect, Windsor Review, and elsewhere. His collections include News of Loss (1994), The Weather in Athens (2001), winner of the Ohioana Poetry Award, and Brief and Glorious Transit: Prose Poems (2007). His most recent books are Angling Days: A Fly Fisher’s Journals (2016), and Conversations with Jim Harrison, Revised and Updated (2019). From 1969 to 2013 he taught at Ohio University, where he received half a dozen teaching awards. He serves on the editorial board of Steinbeck Review, and directorial board of Quarter After Eight, a literary journal. He lives in Athens, Ohio, with Kate Fox, poet and editor. Buy Up Late Reading Birds of America from Sheila-Na-Gig Editions: https://sheilanagigblog.com/sheila-na-gig-editions-quick-shopping/robert-demott/
Last night, deep in a God-forsaken year
that looks like it might end worse than it began,
I dreamed of my mother again, a bright
reprieve in a lightless season. It was Christmas Eve––
it is always Christmas Eve in this dream––
and she was in her element welcoming family
to celebrate the final night of Advent,
sure, as I was sure, there was nowhere else
she, nor we––having traveled far–– would care to be,
than there with her around the home fire.
She looked younger than I remembered
in her pearl earrings that caught the light
and her favorite red holiday sweater, gifts
my father bought at a pricey store long ago
in the small Connecticut town where we lived.
The dining room table was set, its candles lit,
and we were about to sit down to our evening-long
feast of fishes and loaves, with delicacies to come.
But you know how it is in a dream—little happens
as it should––and before the first dish was served
I woke suddenly––I can’t say why–– to a later memory
when she had by then forgotten my name or who I was,
said in no uncertain terms I had broken her heart
and would not forgive moving her so far from home.
The woman I love was asleep beside me, but did not stir.
I sat upright to listen, straining my ears to hear more,
but it was late and dark, colder than I dared dream
when nothing in the world has reason to change,
and I wondered whether this too would ever pass.