2012 Poetry Winner! My Mother’s Dream by Catherine Conroy

You clutched your horse’s mane
Rode Illinois plains, pigtails sailing behind you

Bent over paper, a pencil in your hand
Determined to become a writer, undaunted by the Depression

Became the sought after woman on campus
One suitor claimed your attention and you danced

Replaced your words with his words
Typed his scientific terms, created his book

Pledged your troth, he promised happiness
Placed your hand in his, your time would come

Held your firstborn, a son, surrendered him to the priesthood
Keened the day he jumped to his death, your words torrents of anguish

Held your second child, his doctor said he wouldn’t live
Grieved nine months later, pneumonia took his life, your words captured loss

Held your twin sons, one survived
The other jumped off an overpass, you had no words

Held me, fashioned in your image, imprinted me with dreams
My trials took you further and further from your dream

Held your youngest son, whooping cough and pneumonia didn’t claim his life
He continued past your time, he didn’t drain you of your words

Resurrected your dream, had it destroyed by that overpass
Your suitor long gone, his sodden ways a trail of dashed hopes

Endured ninety years and in your final days
Bound in a morphine haze, extended a maiden’s hand to your suitor

Beatific face, glowing eyes, you said, “Yes, let’s dance”
And I took up your pencil