"Love follows knowledge."
"Beauty above all beauty!"
– St. Catherine of Siena

Saturday, May 9, 2015

Poetry: “My Mother on an Evening in Late Summer” by Mark Strand

Blogging has been slow lately.  I’ve been busy with work the past few weeks, and it won’t get better until the middle of next week.  But I do wish to honor Mother’s Day.  Here is a lovely poem by Mark Strand, who I had a memorial post a few months ago on his passing. 

My Mother on an Evening in Late Summer
by Mark Strand

When the moon appears
and a few wind-stricken barns stand out
in the low-domed hills
and shine with a light
that is veiled and dust-filled
and that floats upon the fields,
my mother, with her hair in a bun,
her face in shadow, and the smoke
from their cigarette coiling close
to the faint yellow sheen of her dress,
stands hear the house
and watches the seepage of late light
down through the sedges
the last gray islands of cloud
taken from view, and the wind
ruffling the moon's ash-colored coat
on the black bay.

Soon the house, with its shades drawn closed, will send
small carpets of lampglow
into the haze and the bay
will begin its loud heaving
and the pines, frayed finials
climbing the hill, will seem to graze
the dim cinders of heaven.
And my mother will stare into the starlanes,
the endless tunnels of nothing,
and as she gazes,
under the hour's spell,
she will think how we yield each night
to the soundless storms of decay
that tear at the folding flesh,
and she will not know
why she is here
or what she is prisoner of
if not the conditions of love that brought her to this.

My mother will go indoors
and the fields, the bare stones
will drift in peace, small creatures --
the mouse and the swift -- will sleep
at opposite ends of the house.
Only the cricket will be up,
repeating its one shrill note
to the rotten boards of the porch,
to the rusted screens, to the air, to the rimless dark,
to the sea that keeps to itself.
Why should my mother awake?
The earth is not yet a garden
about to be turned. The stars
are not yet bells that ring
at night for the lost.
It is much too late.

No deep analysis is needed.  The poem captures the mother alone beneath the cosmos (first stanza) where she momentarily wonders what life means (second stanza), and then goes back indoors where a complete sense of order is established.  The implication is that she is the reason for the order, an order formed by “the conditions of love” that has her bound.  Lovely and so true.  Yes, mothers sacrifice so much for us.  Happy Mother’s Day.


  1. She IS the reason for order. And most everything else! Nice poem, Manny.

    1. Hope you had a nice mother;s day, Jan. :)