Relics

By June Blumenson

i
  After
  she was in the ground,
  sent off to,
  god knows where,
  we returned to the house
  and sorted through 
  the scent 
  of her.
  
ii 
  Our inheritance, 
  like medicine,
  had been dispensed
  long before.
  
iii
  I got the china, her fur coat,
  her original
  wedding band, 
  too big 
  for my finger, 
  it slid free 
  down 
  the drain.
  
iv
  Later my sister said, 
  she told  me 
  you 
  were 
  her  favorite.
  
v
  I sank 
  into the edge 
  of my parents' bed,
  not even pulling 
  back the hand crocheted 
  bedspread, 
  like we were taught, 
  could barely mumble,
  I never
  once 
  felt
  that.
  
vi
  It was as if 
  my mother and I 
  like forgotten pots 
  boiling
  on the back burner,
  had reduced each other
  to vapor.
  
vii
  Could it have been 
  we stood 
  our whole lives,
  a solid core 
  door 
  between us,
  each of us 
  on opposite sides 
  screaming
  let
  me 
  in?
  
viii
  After the funeral,
  I took my sister's words, 
  as if they were relics of
  bone, clipped 
  nails,
  a strand 
  of hair,
  and packed up 
  my car trunk with them,
  not knowing what
  else to do with them,
  and set off 
  to god knows where.
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About June Blumenson

June Blumenson’s work has appeared in various books and journals including: Adana Literary Journal, Boston Literary Magazine, The French Literary Review, Intimate Landscapes, The Edge, Nimrod International Journal and Times They Were A-Changing.  She was a finalist for the 2012 Pablo Neruda Prize for Poetry.  In 2014 she won the Loft/MIA Sacred Shorts Writing Contest with her poem "Dogs of War" which is posted at the Minneapolis Institute of Art near the sculpture Some/One by the internationally acclaimed artist Do-Hu Suh.

10 Comments

  1. Mary Moore Easter
    Posted March 2015 at 2:59 pm | Permalink

    “Relics” leaves me in tears of recognition and wistfulness though the circumstances are personally different. But the relics–so ordinary that list, clipped nails, strand of hair, scent–are universal leavings that hit their mark inside. Thank you, June.

  2. Kathe
    Posted March 2015 at 3:20 pm | Permalink

    Unique and tender telling of a story easy to identify with: siblings, passing of parent(s) and subsequent relationships. Very powerful insights.

  3. Sharon Soderlund
    Posted March 2015 at 4:58 pm | Permalink

    June’s poem is about the loss of her mother, but on a deeper level, it is about lost chances to communicate, to forgive, to love and be loved, and to build or restore a relationship with a family member before it is too late. Vivid, poignant, arresting writing!

  4. Stephanie Brown
    Posted March 2015 at 6:29 pm | Permalink

    A universal topic that we can all relate to. June’s poem builds, starting with the external and moving toward deeper internal insights. Lovely poem!

  5. Posted March 2015 at 6:31 pm | Permalink

    June’s work always blesses the ear and the soul. Her words feel as if they’re delivered from a voice so close we’re not sure if it’s inches away or inside us.

  6. Posted March 2015 at 9:31 pm | Permalink

    Wonderfully poignant poem, June. Especially for me when you are sitting on the bed, never knowing of your mom’s affection. You showed the separations beautifully. A reader feels very sad that this happens in relationships.

  7. Carol
    Posted March 2015 at 9:40 am | Permalink

    Relics, Holy Relics–you have found the perspective.

  8. Posted March 2015 at 6:00 pm | Permalink

    This bittersweet piece is potent. The universality of the circumstance when one loses a mother is laid out exquisitely. I love it.

  9. michael
    Posted March 2015 at 11:04 am | Permalink

    Jeanette Winterson wrote: A tough life needs a tough language–and that i what poetry is. That is what literature offers–a language powerful enough to say how it is.
    It isn’t a hiding place. It is a finding place.

    And that is what June is about and that is about and that is elegantly shown here.

  10. Sandra Kacher
    Posted March 2015 at 1:26 pm | Permalink

    “reduced to vapor” indeed! Such a poignant poem of desire for and loss of connection.

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