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Fiction by Norwegian Women

Friday, March 30, 2012

                                           The Breath of the World
Sallie Council McBride

On Tuesday, my mother died.  Sallie Council McBride.   She received hospice care in our home and she died there where love and her legacy reigned.  She was a southern gal, who knew the splendor of words.  To the very end, pushing through the weight of morphine and retreating organs and through the haze of her dementia and her clear knowledge of her imminent death, my mom still clung to poetry.   And even when she recited her favorite poems like Langston Hughes’ “The Negro Mother” with no sound and a mouth heavy with a dead tongue, she spoke of poetry’s true power;  to recognize, to celebrate and to redeem.   

Ode to Sadness                                                                               

by Pablo Neruda

Sadness, scarab
with seven crippled feet,
spiderweb egg,
scramble-brained rat,
bitch's skeleton:
No entry here.
Don't come in.
Go away.
Go back
south with your umbrella,
go back
north with your serpent's teeth.
A poet lives here.
No sadness may
cross this threshold.
Through these windows
comes the breath of the world,
fresh red roses,
flags embroidered with
the victories of the people.
No.
No entry.
Flap
your bat's wings,
I will trample the feathers
that fall from your mantle,
I will sweep the bits and pieces
of your carcass to
the four corners of the wind,
I will wring your neck,
I will stitch your eyelids shut,
I will sew your shroud,
sadness, and bury your rodent bones
beneath the springtime of an apple tree.

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