For My Mother and Other Collectors of Strays

April is National Poetry Month! I’ve dug down deep for this one, written for my Mom at least 30 years ago when she was the age that I am now.

For My Mother and Other Collectors of Strays
I want you to contradict me.
When I shiver in my cavernous apartment
complaining that autumn has never been so rainy,
winter has never been so cold;
I want you to contradict me
to discern a cycle
to show me a pattern.
Instead you give me your past
like a brightly colored
patchwork quilt.
Why can’t you 
pull together
the threads
of your six decades
and offer them to me
like a panoramic tapestry
where land, sea, and sky
are neat, separate, and distinct.
Please forgive me my impatience.
I still call myself young
though I near an age
when youth cannot
be blamed for foolish ambition.
Still I do know 
that your outstretched palm
contains ridges and furrows
that offer refuge
to yellow and gray cats
mongrel dogs
long-tailed possums.
I too call our time together
a sanctuary:
evenings of minted tea
dogeared novels
tales of European history.
You give easily, freely
though you wordlessly
ask one condition:  
that I and my generation
renounce complacency.
For how can one be complacent
when there is a stray cat
who needs a warm basket
to curl up in?

Photo by Roberto H on Unsplash

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