Anna Hempstead Branch: Songs for my Mother

Songs for my Mother

Anna Hempstead Branch

Her Hands

My mother's hands are cool and fair,
They can do anything.
Delicate mercies hide them there
Like flowers in the spring.
When I was small and could not sleep,
She used to come to me,
And with my cheek upon her hand
How sure my rest would be.
For everything she ever touched
Of beautiful or fine,
Their memories living in her hands
Would warm that sleep of mine.
Her hands remember how they played
One time in meadow streams, —
And all the flickering song and shade
Of water took my dreams.
Swift through her haunted fingers pass
Memories of garden things; —
I dipped my face in flowers and grass
And sounds of hidden wings.
One time she touched the cloud that kissed
Brown pastures bleak and far; —
I leaned my cheek into a mist
And thought I was a star.
All this was very long ago
And I am grown; but yet
The hand that lured my slumber so
I never can forget.
For still when drowsiness comes on
It seems so soft and cool,
Shaped happily beneath my cheek,
Hollow and beautiful.

Her Words

My mother has the prettiest tricks
Of words and words and words.
Her talk comes out as smooth and sleek
As breasts of singing birds.
She shapes her speech all silver fine
Because she loves it so.
And her own eyes begin to shine
To hear her stories grow.
And if she goes to make a call
Or out to take a walk
We leave our work when she returns
And run to hear her talk.
We had not dreamed these things were so
Of sorrow and of mirth.
Her speech is as a thousand eyes
Through which we see the earth.
God wove a web of loveliness,
Of clouds and stars and birds,
But made not any thing at all
So beautiful as words.
They shine around our simple earth
With golden shadowings,
And every common thing they touch
Is exquisite with wings.
There's nothing poor and nothing small
But is made fair with them.
They are the hands of living faith
That touch the garment's hem.
They are as fair as bloom or air,
They shine like any star,
And I am rich who learned from her
How beautiful they are.