Melinda Coppola

twenty four may | from the inside out

Melinda Coppola

twenty four may | from the inside out

My mother Victoria took prolific notes.  Her handwriting was an elegant cursive, quite different from my chicken scratch (that even I have difficulty deciphering sometimes).  She penned lovely postcards during her travels.  Clever greeting cards with her thoughtfully  composed messages  and a favorite quote or two enriched birthdays, anniversaries, and milestones of all sorts.  She was keenly interested in the doings of the world and it’s inhabitants and would often send copies of articles about Yoga, nature, health, wellness, science, spirituality, death and dying. And she left behind a small sampling of all of it, from journals with wide gaps of time between entries to folders stuffed with newspaper clippings and little rectangular pieces of paper with those ubiquitous quotes. Her immigrant parents spoke Albanian  at home while taking night classes to learn English, yet my mother won a spelling contest at 9 years old.  The woman loved words.

The poem below is one of the recent batch of five published in The Turning Leaf Journal.



Yesterday My Mother Died Again

And I was there as before,
noted last breath,
slackened jaw, her mouth
caving in to emptiness
below her sunken cheeks.

I saw the words she’d owned
and set free—
millions to the air,
thousands onto pages,
journals and lists,
her seven address books
representing the chapters
of her life.

There were
vowels and consonants
in common-law traditions
in commas and colons,
dashes and exclamation points,

within paragraphs,
novellas, a tome or two.

They danced
in the stale air
around her lifeless body,

all that text
sentencing like chains,
not to bind but to decorate—
gaudy or subtle,
tasteful, eccentric.

When I cracked a window,
as much for her comfort
as my own,
forgetting she’d left,

the words—
in their shiny rows and lines,
necklacing her last weeks
and months,
all her decades
a bijouterie of verbiage—

slipped out happily
between sash and sill,
flew madly upwards
into the kiln of midday sun.


–Melinda Coppola





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