Mary’s Psalm

( Celebrating the Light ought not diminish
our compassion for those suffering the dark.

They were the benchmarks
by which she reckoned her life—
order, cleanliness, God.
Supper at five, always at five;
socks, underwear, towels,
carefully ironed, meticulously folded;
windows washed inside and out,
once a month, spring through fall;
daily mass, daily rosary, daily
invocations to keep her kids
safe, to keep her kids good.

And her house was clean, her kids
were good. Everyone noticed.
Everyone said so. Except, perhaps,
her husband who didn’t say much
of anything but worked hard,
didn’t drink, didn’t hit her, but
didn’t love her as an untidy
imagination said he should.

One day, when her kids were grown and
emptiness had soundproofed the house,
she crawled under a bare kitchen table
and proceeded to tear at her face
and pull out her hair while
her husband dozed
in the other room
after a long, hard day.

© 2007 Dennis Ference

9 thoughts on “Mary’s Psalm

  1. Thanks Dennis,
    I’m closely following all of your beautiful and profound posts. Regarding this one, so often we go through the motions of life denying an empty spot within. We all do it to some degree. So sad when we collapse into that emptiness. Thanks for giving me food for reflection.

    • Thanks for your thoughtful comment. This poem arose from a personal witnessing and indeed the sad ending was many years in the making. I so appreciate this kind of feedback. Peace.

  2. I can only echo much of what has been said. Other than to add, that your true poetic talent shone in this poem, because the ending had a visceral effect and I never saw it coming. And it is sad that too many people live lives of quiet desperation.

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