Poem A Day October: To My Mother

I finished Hannah Coulter last night. After spending the last 100 pages or so in tears, sometimes full on sobs, I can say I was somewhat relieved when it was over. But then, oh then, I was so desperate to know what happens next. To know if the farm lives on in the Culter family or floats away as so many family farms have. HC is the type of book I would have probably not read if not for the Well-Read Mom program, but I am so very glad I did. It’s a beautiful, beautiful work of prose. Berry’s ability to write convincingly as an old woman is amazing. I would recommend it to anyone who enjoys reading a thing of beauty.

For today’s poem I chose another of Berry’s. You may recall passages of it from such places as the sidebar on this blog. It is one of my favorites and I am so eager to share it with you all.

To My Mother

I was your rebellious son,
do you remember? Sometimes
I wonder if you do remember,
so complete has your forgiveness been.

So complete has your forgiveness been
I wonder sometimes if it did not
precede my wrong, and I erred,
safe found, within your love,

prepared ahead of me, the way home,
or my bed at night, so that almost
I should forgive you, who perhaps
foresaw the worst that I might do,

and forgave before I could act,
causing me to smile now, looking back,
to see how paltry was my worst,
compared to your forgiveness of it

already given. And this, then,
is the vision of that Heaven of which
we have heard, where those who love
each other have forgiven each other,

where, for that, the leaves are green,
the light a music in the air,
and all is unentangled,
and all is undismayed.

“To My Mother” by Wendell Berry, from Entries. © Pantheon Books, 1994.


3 thoughts on “Poem A Day October: To My Mother

  1. Oh, what a gem of a poem that is. I’m so close to the end of Hannah, which I’ve been “reading” as an audiobook. It’s so lovely. I can’t wait to go back and revisit my favorite parts in print.

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