by Laura Apol
After her death, my mother came back
as an eagle. I saw her often. You saw her too.
Once, home from college, childhood
ornaments arranged on the family tree,
you stood at the window, gazing out
at the river when —Look— a dark shape
flew close, turned into the wind.
When the sky went slate-empty again,
you said, That’s how I’ll always see her
And you asked, How do you think we’ll see
Grandpa? And later,
I will see you in everything.
I knew then that when someday
I came to you, you would know me
and it made me glad—the ordinals of loss
and my sure return, forever, to you.
I never wondered how you
might return to me. My daughter,
now sea turtle, hummingbird, monarch;
now yellow-eyed heron at the river’s
edge—rare, and relentlessly still. Look —
what memory, water. What memory, sky.
Laura Apol is a poet and professor at Michigan State University. An award-winning author of five full-length collections of poetry (most recently, "A Fine Yellow Dust," winner of the Midwest Book Award), she served as the Lansing-area poet laureate from 2019 to 2021.
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