My mother has died.
I have spent the day packing her things.
The Tiffany birds, the tiny Limoges boxes,
her favorite blue blouse. Now there is
nothing left but the vacant rooms
and the ache of her absence.
Jonah and I go outside to look at the sky.
Between the bowl of the Big Dipper
and the North Star a violent explosion
millions of years ago has just become
visible to astronomers on earth.
But we can’t see it with our naked eyes.
Even so, we lie on the lawn
and look up into a black pool
pinpricked by millions of needles of light.
I am floating face-down into emptiness
when the voice of my young son
fills the darkness. “Did you know
all the atoms in our bodies
were once inside a star?”
He leans his head against mine.
I breathe in earth and grass
and the cool, damp air.
My heart is too small
to hold this night.
—from Rattle #52, Summer 2016
Nancy Miller Gomez: “Poetry helps me to make emotional sense of my life. Each poem is a struggle to clarify something I don’t yet understand. ‘Deadbeat’ came to me with the line, ‘you’re more romantic now that you’re dead.’ That line is no longer in the poem. What remains is the idea that we carry the ghosts of those we’ve loved both before and after they’ve died. ‘Supernova’ grapples with my experience of grief as something both tangible and immeasurable.”