Elegy For Me and My Mother

After Gregory Orr’s “A Litany”

I remember being fourteen,
sitting next to my mother’s hospital bed,
how close the thin bed sheet was to covering her head.
I remember reading The Odyssey
out loud to her to finish my homework.
In Book XI, Odysseus meets the ghost
of his mother, tries three times to hug her,
but his hands fall through her phantom form.
I remember my mother’s stomach, pregnant
with her own fluids.
I remember sharing Pad See Ew with my mom
because she was in hospice and could eat whatever she wanted.
I remember my mom’s voice diminishing,
her struggles to whisper.
I remember crying in the shower
so no one would hear me.
I remember my mom emaciated,
attached to a tube that drained her stomach.
I remember the hospice grief counselor handing me
a shoebox and a disposable camera for a memory box.
I remember it being Ash Wednesday,
a priest rubbing the dust of burnt palms on our heads.
I remember thinking it would save her.
I haven’t bent to receive ashes since.
I remember being fourteen,
kneeling next to my mother’s coffin,
not knowing where she went.

Teresa T. Chappell

Listen to Teresa reading ‘Elegy for Me and My Mother’ (1:31).


Teresa T. Chappell is a poet passionate about tethering the unseen onto the material. Her work has been published by Coffin Bell Journal (2019), Indie Blu(e) Publishing (2019), and Variant Literature (2020). Besides writing, her hobbies include: reading, eating, and swimming in the Long Island Sound.

© 2020