Yahrzeit Candle

Listen to Edward Hirsch read this poem. You’ve lit a candle on the counter between us, a twenty-four hour mantra to your mother’s passing from one realm to another twenty years ago,

distillation of grief, wick of suffering,
remembrance of how, after the stark drama
of her last illness, the tragic final act,

we ushered her out of her suburban home
like a pilgrim and handed her over to darkness,
releasing her spirit to the air, a wing,

and turning back to each other in light
of our fresh role as keepers of the dead,
initiates of sorrow, inheritor of prayers,

Lord, which we recite but cannot believe,
grown children swaying to archaic music
and cupping the losses, our bowl of flame.