April 7, 2012

The Tenth Hour

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by Madeleine L’Engle

Who is to comfort whom

in this time beyond comfort

this end of our time?

Can I, who already have one mother,

alive, oh, very alive, and not over-willing to share,

be another man’s mother’s son?

Perhaps if she coud hold me, as she so small a time ago held him,

knowing him dead with only a fragment of her knowing,

the rest of herself, her arms, heart, lips,

not understanding death—

but we will not touch. Not that way.


Can she, who has lost in such a manner her son,

be mother once again, past child-bearing, caring,

to a man full grown?

I love her son, ran from him, returned only for the end,

most miserable—I, not he‚




My lips move. “Mother.” though no sound comes.

She leaves the hill, the three crosses.

I follow. To her empty house.

She does not weep or wail as I had feared.

She does the little, homely things, prepares a meal, then

O God

washes my feet.

“An angel came,” she said,

“to tell me of his birth. And I obeyed.

No angel’s come to tell me of his death.”


This, I thought, was not an argument.

I held back tears, since she held hers, though foolishly.

We ate—somehow—she always listening.

I said, at last, “You do not mourn.”

She looked down at me gravely.

“No, my son. My second given son.

I obeyed then. Shall I do less today?”


from The Weather of the Heart, p. 72