• Elizabeth Smither


Once, near nightfall, I drove past my mother’s house.

She was inside it, moving about some task.

I saw her move from room to room.


I could have stopped. Shortly she would draw the blinds

but a knock on the door might alarm her

who had her routine for night.


It was all those unseen moments we do not see

the best of a friend, the best of a mother

competent and gracious in her solitude


as if she was concentrating as she had as a child

on something she was reading or pondering

a thought that occupied a minute of a day


and brought her pleasure at her own competence

to tame a minute, to exist inside it

as still as the minute was to itself


neither neutral nor particular but she made it

who would soon walk into the last room

of her life and go to sleep in it.