Photograph by Michael Monteleone, (c) 1998

Through the Gate of Air in memoriam Mary Huntzicker Snyder January 4, 1924 - February 26, 1995 Moorings loosed, she drifts Upward in a fever dream She floats above my sleep She cannot hear Her falconer, my father She spirals high, away Up to the gate of air A matter of days, not weeks, The doctor said, and we wait, hours Out of time, holding her bony hands Breathing with her, shallow puffs Feeding her smiles when she wakes Her face round as a baby's again Surprised, afraid, then reassured When she sees the faces ranged around Her bed in the darkened room I dream that I am driving I hold the great wheel Turn it hand over hand Feel the car beneath me Thump and leap Beyond road's edge, float Off the cliff, over water Whoosh in palpable air Car and I settle gently On a sparkling celadon marsh A man's face, concerned Leans in at the window I am abashed, I stand Ankle deep in swamp grass My open hands cannot catch hold Of my anchor: mother Days later, many miles away From her dim hospital vigil I am divided, north and south I wonder, will I know the moment When she slips through the gate Looses her grip on the string That pulls beneath my breastbone? Will this small ache cease When her breath falters, stills? In the dream I stand beside The sinking car and try To remember my name The policeman waits, I write it slowly, childlike Feel tongue between my teeth Round Palmer letters reveal The name is hers: Mary From brilliant Saturday morning sun Beneath my northern window I phone into her darkened room Call her name, it echoes along the line Her voice is both thick and weak But still she inhabits that body Extends herself down from where She floats near the gate of air She makes it speak my name She is no longer frightened Of the journey, no longer willing To suffer this pain, this incarnation She tells my sister I have explained Taught her how she must let go She tells me I must write it all Once more she bears me, mothers me Generates my being, gives me Who I am, bids me farewell When she is gone I am torn, and I am lifted A part of me rises Hovers near the gate Through which she passed Above this bright planet Hears her voice Still in the air I am enlarged I am taken away I am a wisp of gray vapor Shocked by the brilliant Sweet of yellow freesias Compelled to remain By her loving command Among these beautiful Ephemera. (c) 1995 Margery Snyder This poem first appeared in Coracle [Berkeley], No. 3, Spring/Summer 1996
and missing tablets and unknown oracles, an anthology published by
Blue Beetle Press, San Francisco, 1996.

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