No nation sinks to greater depths than when its government is obliged to listen silently to moral sermons preached by obvious scoundrels.
–Marie von Ebner-Eschenbach, 1880

TEN YEARS SINCE

A Poem by John Grey

My sister calls
reminding me that
today is the tenth anniversary

of our mother’s death –
I sit with her words
in my head

like discharged shotgun shells –
I feel the need for an old photograph
or a letter I’ve kept –

nothing revealing
unless handwriting itself
is a revelation
in these days of the internet,
email and social media –

ten years without –
just the sort of thing
time would say
as it counts its millions
and parcels out so little –

I’ve found the photograph –
it’s gray and fading
and the letter,
make that a postcard,
from the days,
late in her life,
when she treated herself
to more of the world
than just the one with us in it –

my sister calls
to remind me that we were young once
and where we are now
was as far ahead of us
as the possibility of her dying –

minus ten years of course –
minus a face and a hand
and a pen.