Mother Rock

Dear Mother,

How are you?

Wish you could see this place.

I’m at the tip of Africa, this mother continent from which we came, and I’m thinking of you.

The sea here is rough, the coastline a jumble of rock and stone. The waves pound and pound without ever giving up, and you marvel that there’s any rock left. That it hasn’t all been turned to sand.

There’s one rock apart here. Alone. It sits out further than the rest, like it’s itching to get somewhere. Impatient. Headstrong. Eager. Or like it refuses to fit in. And I think of you.

I think of you in college, studying math, programming computers with punch cards, doing your own thing, standing apart.

I see you beside your brother, in the hospital, supporting him.

I see you with three kids, alone, working job after job.

I see you reading to us. I see you fishing in your purse for the money you didn’t have, and finding it anyway.

I see you falling in and out of love.

The waves here are cruel. Relentless. And I don’t know whether by some fate, some hidden feature, the lay of the land or some bar of rock or sand, but they funnel and meet and crash just on this one rock.

Nothing deserves this. And yet look how stoic. That proud rock under a cloud of spray. Rainbows are thrown across the sky. How is it still standing?

There’s all the world for the waves to go, but they land on her one by one, merge and converge. They come for you, mate after mate, as if some hand of fate, but it’s just the lay of the land, those bars of rock and sand, until all that’s left are walls of foam and rainbows.

She’s still there. The tip of this mother continent. I expect her to drown, to not emerge, but the sea subsides, and she lifts her proud granite chin, and I can almost hear her laughter amid the gulls.

I wish better for you, Mom.

But then my eye falls to the cliff before me, where calm seas lie behind that great rock, and there are pools here full of life, and shell, and wonderful, beautiful things, all in the happy shelter beneath rainbows and gentle foam.

There is calm all around that rock. And life’s not fair, but you kept me from drowning there.

I sit upon your curved and craggy spine, Mother Rock, and all the seas take aim. But the rock remains. How is it still standing?

How are you?




2 responses to “Mother Rock”

  1. Beautiful words.

    I miss my mom, too…and you brought a couple of tears to my eyes, Hugh.


  2. I lost my Mom this year, only in the physical because I still feel that she is with me. I really do but this made me ache so much… I miss her. Indeed, she was a solid figure in my life, someone I always leaned on when the weight of the world became too much, she was my Mother Rock.

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