In Memory of Noel Nelson, December 26, l951 - December 26, 1993




As tall and thin as the tree that
tries to hide the two.
You stand, hands cupping your eyes.
What do you see, my remembered sister?
The sheep look at you. The sheep see you.
Do they know you are there?
What do you see through your eyes?
Are their eyes gentle: Do they welcome you?
Do they know you are happy, oh so happy
to seen them?
I ache to see them with you, sweet sister.
I want to fly to that waiting space
and join you.
To cup my hands and gaze at the world for just
one more moment with you beside me.
I know I cannot.
I smell the earth. I lean into the crevice
of dirt and bend my head and rest it upon
your shoulder and sigh.
I shall always smile and know that through
your eyes I see contentment and love.



Eight and a half year older
I towered over your bassinette
as I watched you,
the smallest at birth of my mother's three girls,
the tallest after all.
As I scrutinized your eyes
from my lofty position
of eight and a half
I smugly thought you'd never catch up,
other outcomes beyond my eight and a half.
At eight and half
I tried to make you invisible.
But another prevailed
forty years later,
long after my first-born jealousy,
Olympian in the will of my imagination,
had finally spent its split-tongue elsewhere,
surely on younger siblings.
But no, my serpent was dead a sooner day,
a day I went to your bassinette
and saw those eyes were not the same:
As a new born your eyes were blue,
a dark and murky blue which
on that day I noticed they
had transformed to brown
fanned panic in me as I cried,
"Mommy, the baby's eyes
are turning brown
there's something very wrong!"
Comforted by her lesson in genetics
and the marriage of blue and brown
I softened to those eyes, so
understood by mother love.
And now I have been on this earth
nine years beyond you.
Your eyes from the coma
still stare into my memory of them
so opened wide
as the doctor shows me
how you cannot breathe without the respirator,
"I see"
and cuts off the dopamine
that allows what is left of your brain
to tell the heart keep pumping.
Your eyes still stare at me
as your husband,
curator of artful wishes,
says he is following your instructions
and sweeps clean the room
of all belongings,
leaving you to lie alone,
the blind whisper of nurse-hands
caring through the room
as though it were your armpits
and could hold you 'til you died.
We dutifully left
and now your eyes --
satirical, curious, wise --
watch our play and new playmates
but, no, they do not mind:
for these are the eyes of alchemy
the eyes that bring Psyche
to her palace in the sky.*
No one can make you invisible
to each who has loved you
and my eyes will be keeping you . . .
our brown-eyed girl.


*The God Mercury delivered Psyche to the palace of the gods. He is the god of transformation.
(Although Dana and I never discussed our poems while we were writing them, --indeed, neither knew the other was writing a poem about Noel-- it turns out that each of us independently remember Noel in the same way: through her eyes, the window to the soul.)


THANK YOU -- Peggy Nelson
Quince blossoms and lilacs,
Ah, how sweet,
In May,
A bright bouquet
For Mother's Day.
Quince blossoms and lilacs,
Ah, my dear,
To say,
A Flower's way,
On Mother's Day.
Quince blossoms and lilacs
Ah, my heart,
How gay, From a child at play
Emerson Teye.

Circa '61

YOU ARE WELCOME --Nikki Nelson DiFranks
Under that same Quince
the ashes of this
now gone,
long since transformed
by Quince Tree,
spreading, strong;
long since departed
from girl,
now grown.
And Quince arms reach forth
become Mother.

Circa '88

SUN SCENE (Dana)--Peggy Nelson
She caught a shining sunbeam
The child upon the stair
And memory marked a picture
Of children everywhere.
She clutched a magic dust mote
Captured from the sun,
And stored in a secret
To hide from everyone.
She took a dancing daydream,
And showed it to the sky,
And went about her playing
With a tiny, tiny sigh.
NIKKI, MY JOY -- Peggy Nelson
Ah little child, sing me a song of smiles;
Lift up your young face of joy
And shine through to my dark heart
And with your crystal laughter
Shatter the sad stillness lurking there
With sparkling fragments of mirth.
Ah little child, sing me a song of cheer;
Dip your words in silver splendor
And sprinkle them over my muddy mood.
Let the contagious melody of your youth
Echo through the gloomy passages,
Frighten away fear with laughter loud and gay.
DECREED --Peggy Nelson
For the rose and the weed,
The same sun,
The same rain,
The same need,
For the rose and the weed.
DECREED --Nikki Nelson DiFranks
For the rose and the weed --
the same sun
the same rain
the same need --
only a different seed
for the rose and the weed.