Catherine Chandler's Poetry Blog

Friday, May 10, 2013

Chiaroscuro - Mother's Day 2013

Catherine Chandler and her mother, Bernice Smith Chandler, May 1951 (photo by Bernard F. Chandler, Sr.)

I scanned this photograph and inserted it in a book entitled Mother and Daughter Reflections by Pat Ross, and gave it to my mother on her 75th birthday. On the back of the photograph I had written:

Here, Bernice Smith Chandler, not quite 21 years old, is holding up her daughter, Catherine Marie Chandler, 6 months, most likely telling her how, in a few months, she'll be walking. By the looks of it, Cathy is not so sure, and seems more interested in the shadows on the sidewalk. One of my mother's best lessons, it did turn out, was to "stand on your own two feet!"  Love, Cathy, July 2005

When I retrieved this book from my mother's belongings after she passed away in July 2011, I discovered she had placed the scanned photo and message on page 5 of the book, where this quote by Doris Lessing appears:

"She seems to me so fragile that I want to put out my hand to save her from a wrong step, or a careless movement, and at the same time so strong that she is immortal."  

As it turns out, I took many wrong steps and made many careless movements, but I always knew how to make my way back home.

I think about her every day, not just on Mother's Day. But both her absence and her presence are more palpable on this day.

Where Shadow Chases Light

This is my delight,
thus to wait and watch at the wayside
where shadow chases light
and the rain comes in the wake of the summer.

Messengers, with tidings from unknown skies,
greet me and speed along the road.
My heart is glad within,
and the breath of the passing breeze is sweet.

From dawn till dusk I sit here before my door,
and I know that of a sudden
the happy moment will arrive when I shall see.

In the meanwhile I smile and I sing all alone.
In the meanwhile the air is filling with the perfume of promise.

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