For my mother

The past never stays where you left it
flying off to perch on some other branch
migrating to a different nest

If I could make the past hold still
sing its accustomed song
flutter its painted wings
the way it used to

If I could stay there in the past
where you used to peck away
at the typewriter, sprinkling
a trail of words on paper
like seeds on a path

If I could see you again
striding out with binoculars
on a nature walk, you who knew
the name and nature of every
living wild thing

I’d ask you to teach me once more
about all your feathered friends
before they fly back to wherever
you are in the past