Rites of Ownership

by Linda McCullough Moore

I go to Pennsylvania 
– that other commonwealth –
not my first trip but nearing now 
my last, to move my mother to 
Perpetual Care where it is intended
she will live until she doesn’t anymore.

We don’t say so out loud, or if we do, 
we say: from now on. Old age a field 
of stubble sprouting euphemisms, 
thick on the ground, the litter 
of a language that has grown unwieldy.
Unspeakable: the word I want to say.

I tell my next door neighbor I’ll be gone
eight days, as many nights. I’m making 
small talk. I don’t know that it will be
more like a hundred thousand. To me. 

To my neighbor: eight. Eight days 
she’ll spend – and God alone knows why –
unearthing bushes, flowers, long-lived 
weeds and grasses, all some shade of 
green, if crabby, from my yard, where 
she will plant a tiny field of mulch, copper 
color to my eye, florescent in strong light.

I like mulch….in front of savings banks
and public toilets. In my yard she will 
have planted mums – mum is the word –
so many I can’t count. We called my mother
Mummy. My sibs now say Mum.

I will come in eight days home to my home
spent, my mother having been transported
from the house where she has lived
for seven decades in succession to a room
the size of the mulch pad my neighbor 
has so curiously installed in my front yard.

I’m telling you about control. I’m saying 
messing with a thing that isn’t yours, 
a garden or somebody’s life,
it’s tricky business.

About the author:

Linda McCullough Moore is the author of two story collections, a novel, an essay collection and more than 350 shorter published works. She is the winner of the Pushcart Prize, as well as winner and finalist for numerous national awards. Her first story collection was endorsed by Alice Munro, and equally as joyous, she frequently hears from readers who write to say her work makes a difference in their lives. For many years she has mentored award-winning writers of fiction, poetry, and memoir. She is currently completing a novel, Time Out of Mind, and a collection of her poetry. www.lindamcculloughmoore.com

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