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Two Worlds Claim Her

talking with your mother
and it’s like
she speaks a language you understand,
part of the time,
the words, the concepts, the memories
ringing true and clear
to the reality you know and (sort of) understand,
and then she speaks another language
you get the words and part of the concepts
but what’s real for her
doesn’t intersect with what you can yet know,

she’s walking in two worlds
so she’s only half here
and she keeps trying to make sense
out of the disjoint
to connect what cannot be connected,
so she’s torn between
beating herself up for her failings
and attacking us for how we’re punishing her
since we’re filled with more power
than she feels she has,
we could fix it if we but would,

and all I can do
is love,
and keep making empathic leaps
that can never quite get to the other side,
thank goodness,
for it’s not yet my time to cross over.

by Henry Walker April 5, 1999

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